India's star shuttler HS Prannoy will look to make a mark against the world's best in his maiden appearance at the BWF World Tour Finals, starting in Bangkok on Wednesday.
With two-time Olympic medalist PV Sindhu ruled out due to injury, Prannoy is the only player from India in the season-ending tournament. The tournament has been shifted from Guangzhou in China after the increase in the cases of Covid-19 infection.
Meanwhile, Prannoy, who has shown the most consistency among Indian players in the current season, will club in Group A alongside Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, Kodai Naraoka of Japan, and Lu Guang Zu of China. Third seed Prannoy, who recently achieved the Arjuna Award, said, "I am excited to start my BWF World Tour Finals campaign. It's my first time in the year-ending championships and I hope I can perform well."
Although, Prannoy is eyeing a place in the semi-finals but his record against his group opponents is not very good. Against the world number one, he lost five matches and registered just one win. However, Prannoy's morale will be boosted by the fact that he defeated Dane in their last meeting at the Indonesia Masters last year.
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On the other hand, Prannoy had lost his only match against 21-year-old Naraoka during the Singapore Open in July. Apart from this, the Indian player also faced defeat during the only match in the French Open. He lost to Lu Guang Zu of China. Although, defending champion Axelsen is the strongest player in world No. 12 Prannoy's group. But he cannot afford to be complacent against the other two rivals. Axelsen has won his last 39 matches, setting a world record. During this, he won five Super Series titles.
Earlier, Prannoy played a key role in India's historic title win at the Thomas Cup. He also reached the semi-finals of the Indonesia Open Super 1000 and Malaysia Masters Super 500 events. Besides he finished runner-up at the Swiss Open Super 300. Nominated for the BWF's Most Improving Player of the Year award, Prannoy, however, performs well in big tournaments. He has been in good form this year.