Sai Praneeth enjoys 'the best feeling'

B. Sai Praneeth has enjoyed scalps of leading players but the Singapore Open is his first big tournament win.
B. Sai Praneeth has enjoyed scalps of leading players but the Singapore Open is his first big tournament win.

Indian shuttler B. Sai Praneeth has claimed some big scalps over his career so far but before this week, he had few trophies as impressive to show for it as the Singapore Open.

The world No. 30 earned the first Superseries title of his career yesterday, staging a comeback win against team-mate K. Srikanth 17-21, 21-17, 21-12 in the men's final.

"It's the best feeling," said the 24-year-old. "I've been waiting for this for a long, long time.

"This is the only thing lacking. I've always been playing well, but I've not won any big tournaments. That was always uncomfortable in my mind."

Sai Praneeth, a protege of former All England champion P. Gopichand, counts several famous wins over some of the game's greats in his resume.

It includes beating Taufik Hidayat at the Indonesian's home tournament in 2013, and he also stunned Malaysia's world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei at the All England Open last year.

But playing tentatively in the opening game, it appeared that Sai Praneeth might falter when it mattered again.

Instead, the one who lost his nerve in the end was Srikanth, letting a considerable 7-2 lead in the second game - and with it the match - slip past him.

Said world No. 29 Srikanth, who is also 24 and is now 1-5 against his team-mate: "I didn't hold on to my lead and that really made a difference.

"But I'm happy with the way I played throughout the week. I can take many positives from this."

Both players are products of the Gopichand Badminton Academy, headed by the former Indian star.

Having two Indians in the final of a Superseries for the first time is a good sign, and hopefully the start of better results, said Sai Praneeth.

"Indian badminton is going up.

"I hope people can see from this tournament that not just Saina (Nehwal) or (P.V.) Sindhu can win, the men can win too."

May Chen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2017, with the headline 'Sai Praneeth enjoys 'the best feeling''. Print Edition | Subscribe