Wuhan: Indian shuttler HS Prannoy suffered a straight-game semifinal defeat against Olympic champion Chen Long of China in the Asia Badminton Championship here on Saturday.
World number 10 Prannoy showed good athleticism but paid the price for being too erratic as he went down 16-21, 18-21 to the third-seeded Chinese in a 52-minute match.
Prannoy started on a positive note as he opened up a 5-2 lead early on but Chen erased the deficit with three quick points. The Indian tried to be patient during the rallies and it worked as Chen hit the net and then went wide.
However, Prannoy himself went out twice to allow the Chinese keep breathing down his neck. Prannoy tried to keep Chen guessing by changing the pace and angles of his strokes. But he faltered in finishing the rallies as his smashes often went wide or an attempted net dribble ended up at the net.
Another such attempted smash went out as Chen entered the interval with a slender 11-10 lead.
The duo continued engaging in some long rallies with both displaying great athleticism and repertoire of strokes but Prannoy ended up going wide too often as Chen led 15-11.
Chen judged the shuttles well at the lines, often leaving them at the last moment as errors continued to pile up for Prannoy, allowing the Chinese to move to a healthy 19-14 lead. The Chinese grabbed the game point with a body smash.
Prannoy saved two game points, both at the nets, but his lift went wide again as Chen earned the bragging rights.
After the change of sides, Chen once again jumped to a 3-0 lead. Prannoy won a lucky net chord and then smashed to make it 3-3. Chen then had a lucky moment when his return kissed the net and landed safely.
Prannoy, however, continued to find the going tough as despite matching his rival with the deceptive returns in the rallies he ended up going out or hitting the net. In the end, it was a blind return on the move by Chen which gave him an 11-6 lead at the breather.
The Indian came out with a barrage of smashes to narrow down the gap to 10-11. He lost a point but earned back the serve by another jump smash. Another rally ensued as Prannoy drew level with another good-looking cross court smash.
Chen once again moved ahead but Prannoy kept snapping at his heels. At 16-18, Prannoy faltered with a return as Chen moved to 19-16.
A quick return to serve gave the Indian another point. But he missed the line again with his smash to hand over three match points to Chen.
The Indian saved one with a stiff return at the net. But he gave an easy lift at mid-court which Chen converted to take his place at the final.