Third seed Sai Praneeth takes on ninth seed Iskandar Zulkarnain in the Men's singles third round of 2017 Thailand Grand Prix Gold in Bangkok on Thursday.
Praneeth has decimated his opponents over the first two-rounds, earning wins in straight games against lower-ranked Nathaniel Sulistyo and Satheishtharan.
On the other hand, Zulkarnain, who is playing his first tournament since his Macau Open appearance last December, has looked impressive in the ongoing tournament with comfortable wins in his earlier rounds.
The Malaysian shuttler, who was out of action for five months with a recurring back injury, will face his first big test against Praneeth, who won his first Superseries title in Singapore earlier this year. Iskandar had been coming up consistent performances at the highest level and also reached the semi-final of China Superseries Premier last year, beating the likes of Qiao Bin enroute before he suffered the injury in December.
Iskandar faces an uphill task as he will find it difficult to get back to his best in his very first appearance after the long layoff. Notably, the world number 39 lost to the Indian shuttler in their only meeting that came at the 2013 India Open. The hard-fought match was pushed to the decider after Zulkarnain came back from behind to take the second game 29-27 before conceding the third game 16-21 to eventually lose 16-21, 29-27, 16-21.
Praneeth, who will start today's tie as favourite, has been in good form in the new season and is in a better position to emerge successful if another long battle is on the cards today. Notably, the world number 22 started the year with a runner-up finish at Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold before he created history in Singapore, beating top-ranked shuttlers of the likes of Bin, Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk enroute to the top step of the podium.