HS Prannoy, ranked 9th globally, created a stunning upset by defeating two-time world champion Viktor Axelsen in an intense 68-minute quarterfinal at the BWF World Championship 2023. Amidst chants of ‘Viktor, Viktor’ from the crowd, Prannoy rallied from a game down to triumph 13-21, 21-15, 21-16 against the reigning Olympic champion. Despite a challenging 2-7 head-to-head record, Prannoy’s remarkable performance marked him as the fifth Indian male shuttler to secure a World Championship medal.
The turnaround came after Prannoy’s earlier upset against the 2021 World Champion. With tenacity, he rallied in the second game, showcasing cross-court winners and powerful smashes that applied pressure on Axelsen. A pivotal 49-shot rally demonstrated Prannoy’s resilience and strategic finesse. Although Axelsen narrowed the lead, Prannoy held firm, capitalizing on opponent errors, and secured victory after an hour and eight minutes. His next challenge awaits against Thailand’s 3rd seed, Kunlavut Vitidsarn.
In contrast, reigning Asian Champions Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty faced defeat in straight games against Denmark’s Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen, losing their chance at a consecutive World Championships medal with a score of 18-21, 19-21.