Sai Praneeth loses Swiss Open final to world no. 2 Shi Yuqi


B Sai Praneeth's inspired run at the Swiss Open came to an end after he lost 21-19, 18-21, 12-21 to World No. 2 Shi Yuqi in the final on Sunday in Basel in a match that lasted 68 minutes. Praneeth has now lost both his matches against Shi on the international circuit.

Praneeth had entered the final after shocking reigning Olympic and former world champion Chen Long 21-18, 21-13 in the semifinal. This was Praneeth's first final in more than 21 months.

His last final appearance had come at the 2017 Thailand Open, which he won after defeating Jonatan Christie in the title match. He had also won the Singapore Open, his first Superseries title, in 2017.

Praneeth looked to be on course to join Sameer Verma as the only Indian to win a men's singles title on the BWF World Tour when he led 17-16 in the second game, but Shi won five of the next six points to take the match to a deciding game.

At 22, Praneeth is ranked 20 places lower than Shi in the world rankings, but he was easily the more dominant player for the major part of the opening two games before Shi came into his own towards the end of the second game.

Praneeth had been in imperious form in his run to the final, having not dropped a single game in his four previous matches in the tournament. This is Shi's first title win this year. His previous best display this year came at the All England Open, where he lost in the semis to Viktor Axelsen.

Indians have been dominant in recent years at the Swiss Open, with Saina Nehwal winning the women's singles title in 2011 and 2012. Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy and Sameer Verma also won the men's singles title in 2015, 2016 and 2018 respectively.

Both Praneeth and Shi will next be in action at the India Open, which starts in New Delhi on March 26.