• Tuesday, May 21, 2024

BADMINTON

Lakshya Sen enters semifinals of Japan Open

India’s H S Prannoy and doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are out of the tournament

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIAN shuttler Lakshya Sen progressed to the semifinals to be the lone Indian survivor at the Japan Open Super 750 badminton tournament following the ouster of compatriots H S Prannoy and doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty on Friday (28).

World number 13 Sen registered a 21-15 21-19 victory over local player Koki Watanabe, ranked 33rd, to make his third successive semifinals, following his exploits in Canada and the US.

The reigning Commonwealth Games champion will play fifth seed Indonesian Jonatan Christie in the semifinals.

World number 10 Prannoy too could have joined Sen in the last four but he squandered an opening game win and a 7-1 advantage in the second to eventually suffer a heart-breaking 21-19 18-21 8-21 loss against world number one Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

Men’s doubles duo of Rankireddy and Shetty too went down fighting 15-21 25-23 16-21 to Olympic champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lan of Chinese Taipei to end their 12-match winning streak.

A 2021 world championship bronze medallist, Sen, who had won the Canada Open Super 500 early this month, opened up a 5-3 lead early on before moving to 11-7 at the break.

The Indian didn’t have much problem negotiating the Japanese and soon sealed the opening game with two cross-court returns on both sides of the court.

After the change of sides, Watanabe tried to inject some pace in the rallies but Sen looked in control and moved to 3-2 with a lovely cross-court drop.

A 42-shot rally ended with Sen’s backhand crashing into the net as Watanabe turned it around to lead 5-3 before consolidating it further at 7-3.

The Japanese strengthened his defense and things seemed like going downhill for Sen, who trailed 7-14.

However, the Indian scripted a turnaround, drawing his opponent to the net and using the drop shots to good effect. He soon turned the tables at 18-17 with a cross court smash.

With two returns on his opponent’s backhand, Sen gained one-match point before producing another precise return at the back-line and then threw his racquet in celebration.

The Axelsen vs Prannoy duel lived up to the expectations with the two producing some mindboggling rallies.
Prannoy, who had beaten Dane twice in the last three meetings, slowly fought his way back to clinch the opener and also conjured up hopes of an upset as he raced to an overwhelming 7-1 lead, only to run out of steam in the end.

(PTI)

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