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Sindhu secures 5th medal; Praneeth breaks 36-year drought

PTI

Basel (Switzerland)

P V Sindhu secured her fifth World Championships medal following a stunning comeback while B Sai Praneeth became the first Indian male shuttler in 36 years to grab a podium in the prestigious event here on Friday.

On a day of double delight for India, Olympic silver medallist Sindhu staged a come-from-behind victory over Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, before Praneeth ended an agonising wait with a straight-game win over Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie.

Sindhu, who won back-to-back silver medals in the last two editions of the tournament to go with her two bronze, edged past world number 2 and Asian Games gold medallist Tzu Ying 12-21 23-21 21-19 in a pulsating contest that lasted 71 minutes, inching closer to an elusive gold medal at the worlds.

World No 19 Praneeth, who got the Arjuna Award this year, notched up a 24-22 21-14 win over Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan in a 51-minute battle, joining Prakash Padukone in the medal list at the tournament.

Padukone was the first Indian to win a men’s singles World Championships medal — a bronze — in the 1983 edition.

In the women’s singles, Sindhu showed tremendous grit after being blown away in the opening game, edging past her fancied rival, who enjoys an upper hand (10-4) after 14 career meetings.

In the men’s singles quarterfinals, Praneeth, who had won the Singapore Open in 2017 and finished runners-up at Swiss Open earlier this year, came into the tournament with a 1-2 head-to-head count against the Indonesian.

But the past record didn’t matter as the Indian came out attacking to stave off a stiff challenge from Jonatan in the opening game and then blew him away in the second to find his place in history.

“It feels awesome. It feels great and I am happy to win today. I still have matches, so I have to focus on that and be fitter for tomorrow. We can talk about what medal later on,” laughed Praneeth after the match.

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