India’s top-ranked men’s singles shuttler HS Prannoy went through a typically tough opening set before he settled down to win 24-22, 21-10 against Finnish southpaw Kalle Koljonen in Round 1 of the World Championships at Copenhagen. Speaking to Olympics.com in the mixed zone post his match, he would admit he was taken through a wringer before he came back from 20-17 down in the opener
“I think it’s always tricky in the first rounds. You’re trying to get used to the conditions. Koljonen definitely was playing well. Picking up a lot of shuttles,” he said of the left handed opponent to Olympics.com.
“And it was not easy to score points. Especially the phase from 11-8 to 13-14 was very crucial where he gained a lot of confidence and then at 15-15, 16-16, it’s anybody’s game. So yes, happy that I could pull it off from 20-17 down,” he added.
Prannoy was glad he could wrap it up in two. “Because it kind of saves you a lot of energy – mentally and physically – in the second and third game, because somewhere or the other, you’ll keep thinking it’s the World Championships and that pressure keeps on mounting. I’m glad I could get that first game and then I think in the second game, I pretty much knew that I was under control,” he told the Olympics website.
The 31-year-old said he was acclimatizing to the court conditions at the Royal arena, and early rounds help in that. “If you’re winning it’s good. Otherwise, it’s not a good feeling (to be tested early in a tournament). I’d say yes, you kind of get used to a lot of conditions, you know which shots are working well, which aren’t at this kind of stadium. That’s very important. And getting into tougher rounds from tomorrow, I think that might help me a bit,” Prannoy said ahead of his Round of 32 against speedy Indonesian Chico Dwi Wardoyo.
Coach Guru Saidutt added it was a tricky start for Prannoy. “Kalle is a tricky opponent in big events, a left hander with hits from unorthodox positions. But Prannoy kept his nerve and pulled it out,” he said. Another feature at big Championships is the sluggish court pace. “Yes I felt the conditions were a bit slow, usually this happens in big events,” he added.