Basel (Switzerland), After creating history by becoming the first men’s singles player after Prakash Padukone in 1983 to win a World Championships medal, Sai Praneeth on Friday termed his straight games victory over world No. 4 Jonatan Christie of Indonesia as a “very big win”.
Just a week after being chosen for the Arjuna Award, Praneeth breezed past Christie 24-22, 21-14 in 51 minutes to progress to the semifinals, thus assuring himself of a bronze medal. He will next take on defending champion and world No.1 Kento Momota of Japan on Saturday. Padukone had won the bronze at the Worlds 36 years back.
“This is a very big win. The last time it was Prakash Padukone and since then no Indian men’s player has won a medal at the World Championships. So yes, it is big and I am very happy,” Praneeth, 27, said moments after he sunk to the floor as Cristie’s shot went wide of the court.
“I need to prepare for the semifinal. We have a 3-2 head-to-head record. But that won’t matter now. It will be who plays better on the day,” said Praneeth, who is a lot fitter now than what he used to be.
Praneeth said he would also like to work on his smashes going into the last-four clash.
“I missed a few smashes (today) and would like to work on that. Tomorrow’s game would be different as the opponent is different,” he said.
Before Praneeth’s encounter, P.V. Sindhu overcame world No. 2 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei 12-21, 23-21, 21-19 to storm into the semifinals and assure herself of a fifth medal at the Worlds.
Asked if her gritty win gave him inspiration, Praneeth said: “When one wins, the other gets confidence. It is always that way. We train together.”