Badminton at Olympics: Sai Praneeth struggle, loses opening match to lower-ranked Israeli shuttler

Sai Praneeth starts on a low note with a 17-21 15-21 defeat against lower-ranked Misha Zilberman in the opening match.

B Sai Praneeth
B Sai Praneeth

B. Sai Praneeth, India’s sole shuttler in this year’s men’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, has suffered a disappointing defeat in his debut match against Israel’s Misha Zilberman. The 28-year-old suffered a straight 17-21 15-21 loss against world number 47 Zilberman in a 41-minute match. 

Sai, the 2019 World Championships bronze medallist and currently ranked 15th, tried his best in the first match of Group D here at the Musashino Forest Plaza Court 2. This game also marked the second encounter of the two shuttlers as they have earlier met in the round of 32 at the 2021 Swiss Open. However, Sai Praneeth emerged victorious there in a comfortable clash.

The 13th seed Indian athlete raced to an 8-4 lead early on during the match before the opponent claimed five consecutive points. Sai failed to make a comeback in the opening game from then onwards. Coming to the second game, Praneeth was trailing at 7-11 before the Israeli player further dominated to seal the match. 

Sai will next face the Netherlands’ Mark Caljouw

Sai Praneeth
Credits: Twitter | Sai Praneeth

The Hyderabad-born will now lock horns with the world number 29 Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands in his second game of Group D. This match is scheduled to take place on July 28 at the same venue.

India’s men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty is also currently in action against Chinese Taipei’s top pair of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin.

Moreover, PV Sindhu, India’s sole candidate in the women’s singles event will also begin her campaign tomorrow with the opening match of Group J against Israel’s Ksenia Polikarpova

The Indian fans are currently rooting for at least one medal in badminton, a sport where India has won consecutive medals in the last two Games.

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Sachin Arora is a die-hard sports fan who commenced content writing while pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.