In a nail-biting finale of the Australian Open 2023 held in Sydney, India’s HS Prannoy was edged out by China’s Weng Hong Yang with a scoreline of 9-21, 23-21, 20-22 on Sunday.
Ranked world No. 9, Prannoy was aiming to clinch his second BWF World Tour title following his victorious run at the Malaysia Masters Super 500 earlier in May. Fans might recall that during the Malaysian event, Prannoy triumphed over Yang, making this match a much-anticipated rematch.
In the early stages, Yang, currently World No. 24 and known for his surprise defeat of former All England champion Lee Zii Jia, dominated the court. Yet, Prannoy, showcasing his trademark resilience, kept close, ensuring a gripping contest.
The turning point came during the second game. Despite trailing initially, Prannoy clawed his way back, securing a three-point advantage at the break. But Yang’s relentless pursuit balanced the scales at 15-15, leading to an intense race to close out the game. With the stakes high, Prannoy managed to tip the balance in his favor, forcing a decider.
The final game was a test of both skill and nerves. Prannoy seemed to have the upper hand, leveraging Yang’s mistakes to carve out a 19-14 lead. Yet, in a display of sheer grit, Yang fought back, leveling the score. The epic 71-shot rally at 19-18 proved pivotal, tilting momentum towards Yang.
Although Prannoy had a chance to clinch the title, Yang’s resilience ensured a triumphant finish, marking his first victory over the Indian ace.
While the men’s singles offered intense drama, India’s women’s singles hopes were dashed earlier when PV Sindhu made an exit in the quarter-finals.
The outcomes from the Australian Open play a critical role in shaping the rankings for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Players began their journey towards Olympic qualification starting May 1.
Badminton enthusiasts now eagerly await the world championships, set to kick off on August 21 in Copenhagen.
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