Indian shuttler B Sai Praneeth settled for a runner-up finish at the Swiss Open after losing the men’s singles final to top seed and world number two Shi Yuqi, here Sunday. Playing his first final in almost two years, world No. 22 Praneeth lost 21-19 18-21 12-21 to the Chinese in the summit clash, which lasted 68 minutes.
The last time Praneeth featured in a final was which when he clinched the Thailand Open title in June 2017. Praneeth did well to win the opening game despite Yuqi making a brilliant comeback from 12-18 to 19-19.
After a neck-and neck battle till 9-9, Praneeth reeled off six straight points to open up a 15-9 lead. He then kept moving ahead to make it 18-12 but the Chinese managed to earn four points on the trot to reduce the gap before catching Praneeth at 19-19. The Indian, however, held his nerves to win the next two crucial points, sealing the opening game.
The second game turned out to be a closely-fought affair as the game tilted from one end to another. The only time the Indian might have fancied his chances was when he bagged four consecutive points to move up 13-10 but soon the Chinese caught up with him and made it 15-15.
It went on like that till 18-18 before Yuqi earned three straight points to take the match to the decider. In the third and final game, Praneeth, who had a gruelling match against world number five and reigning Olympic champion Chen Long in the semifinals yesterday, ran out of steam and went down tamely.
Although the third game was also fought closely initially with both the players tied at 4-4, the Chinese won three points to take 7-4 lead. But from thereon, Yuqi did not look back as he continued to march ahead and widened the gap. The Chinese eventually bagged the game and the match rather comfortably.
(With PTI inputs)