New Delhi: Indian shuttler Sai Praneeth B failed to make it to the main draw of the Li Ning China Masters as he went down fighting to Huan Gao of China in the qualification round of the men's singles event at Changzhou on Tuesday.

Huan will take on Olympic quarter-finalist and Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist P Kashyap of India on Wednesday, according to the tournament schedule. Sai Praneeth put up a good fight before losing the match 13-21, 21-18 20-22 in 89 minutes.

In the first set, Gao, with his power packed strokes, fetched valuable points in a row to finish the first half of the set with a decent total of 11, and then capitalised on the initial advantage in the latter part of the game.

The Indian, however, bounced back in the next game. He prevailed in a few consecutive rallies to corner his rival. Although he dropped some points in the third quarter of the game, Sai Praneeth managed to reinstate his supremacy to win it 21-18 and setup a nerve-wracking third set.

In the decider, both the shuttlers kept chasing each other until the game point. The thrilling game ended when the Chinese bagged it 22-20 to advance to the next stage.

Tomorrow, the other Indians in the fray, R M V Gurusaidutt will square off against Malaysian Muhammad Hafiz Hashim, while Sourabh Varma will also be up against a Malaysian in Daren Liew.

In the lower half of the draw, Ajay Jayaram and Anand Pawar have been handed tough opening matches. While Jayaram will face third seeded Japanese Kenichi Tago, Pawar will fight it out against second-seeded Chinese Jin Chen.

The only Indian in the women's singles draw, in the absence of resting Olympic bronze-medallist Saina Nehwal, would be P V Sindhu, who will face American Jamie Subandhi in her opening match on Wednesday.

(Agencies)

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