Lakshya Sen was the seeded player and had a better head-to-head record, but his straight-games first-round loss at the Indonesia Open Super 1000 cannot exactly be called an upset. That's because, thanks to the luck of the draw, his opponent was HS Prannoy: in-form India veteran known for regularly punching above his weight.
Prannoy, the world No 23, beat the 8th seed 21-10, 21-9 in a near flawless display to get his first win against his younger compatriot in three meetings. He was a mix of attack and angles as he overpowered his Thomas Cup teammate, continuing in the same form that saw him win crucial fifth matches as India marched to victory.
The match started on a cautious note, with Sen having a slim 6-3 lead to begin with. But once Prannoy's attacking gears clicked into place, it was the 29-year-old all the way. He took the lead forcing an error, after levelling the match at 8-8 with his all-court rally and maintained it for the rest of the match.
An aggressive smash here, a deftly played drop there, a wonder no-look back pass, an angled winner - Prannoy seemed to have all the shots to not let Sen build any sort of defence. He read Sen's game with ease and didn't let him settle into any sort of rhythm.
From 8-8, he went into the break with an 11-8 lead and Sen could manage just two more points in the first game after that. Prannoy dictated the pace of the rallies and stretched to 17-9 before Sen got a chance to stem the flow with a smash. But as luck would have it, a net cord - which Prannoy apologised for - gave him back the serve and Sen then fluffed a smash straight into the net to make the end of the first game worse for him. Prannoy soon converted his first game point.
The change in sides didn't bring about a change in fortune for Sen as Prannoy jumped to a 4-1 lead and extended that to 7-2 and 9-3, continuously building up his momentum while giving Sen none. He had a commanding 11-4 lead heading into the break. Sen didn't seem to be having the best of days, as he struggled to get going.
Nothing seemed to be working out for him as he was getting too many errors on normally bankable shots. Misjudgements on Prannoy's lifts catching the line combined with his own smashes catching the net and too many wide shots. At one point, an angled jump smash gave him a confidence-boosting point, but in the next minute or so, a similar shot went wide - it was just that kind of a day.
Prannoy meanwhile was finding all the right spots and angles on the court, wrong-footing Sen and overpowering him with swift attacks. He missed his first match point, at 20-8, when his shot was hit just off the line. But the second was a cross-court winner that gave him a big win at a big tournament. Sen had beaten his senior twice already this year, at the India Open and the German Open, but this looks like a different Prannoy - the Thomas Cup winning hero who is playing with rejuvenated physicality and mind-set.
He will next play Angus NG Ka Long and has a potential quarterfinal against another compatriot, Kidambi Srikanth in the offing.