India’s HS Prannoy ended his campaign in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Finals 2022 on a happy note with a superb victory against World No.1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in a Group Stage match at Court 1 in Nimibutr Arena here on Friday.
Prannoy, who is out of contention for a spot in the semifinals after losing his previous matches against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka and Lu Guang Zu of China, respectively in the four-player Group A, defeated Axelsen in three games, winning 14-21, 21-17, 21-18 in nearly one-hour encounter in his maiden appearance in the year-end extravaganza.
Axelsen had already qualified for the knockout rounds after winning his first two matches and will be joined in the last four by Japan’s Kodai Naraoka, who defeated China’s Lu Guang Zu 21-19, 21-15 to clinch his spot.
With nothing to lose playing against the World No.1, Prannoy started the match on equal footing against the Danish shuttler. However, from 5-5, Axelsen raced ahead by winning five straight points and eventually took a 1-0 lead.
Ranked 12th in the world, the 30-year-old Prannoy was trailing 10-6 in the second game before he mounted a comeback. The Indian badminton player then engaged in longer rallies and got Axelsen to make a few unforced errors to win the second game 21-17 and take the match into the decider.
Prannoy, who qualified for his maiden BWF World Tour Finals on the back of some strong performances, lost his previous two group matches from a winning position, going down in the decider. On Friday, he kept his composure to build a five-point lead from 12-12 onwards. Axelsen tried to fight back strongly but Prannoy kept his nerve and closed out the game and match.
Friday’s win helped Prannoy, who helped India win the Thomas Cup gold earlier this year, finishing third on the BWF World Tour Finals standings and also maintained his position in the top 15 of the badminton world rankings.