Lakshya enters third consecutive semi-final - Hindustan Times
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Lakshya enters third consecutive semi-final

By, New Delhi
Jul 28, 2023 09:00 PM IST

Sen will be the only Indian in action on Saturday after HS Prannoy and the pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lost their respective QFs

Not since the first half of last year has Lakshya Sen displayed the kind of form he is in now. After battling through surgery, injuries, a change of coach and a drastic loss of form in the last year, the 21-year-old shuttler finally looks at his best, reaching a third consecutive semi-final on the BWF World Tour.

World number 13 Sen registered a 21-15 21-19 victory over local player Koki Watanabe, ranked 33rd, to make his third successive semifinals. (AFP)
World number 13 Sen registered a 21-15 21-19 victory over local player Koki Watanabe, ranked 33rd, to make his third successive semifinals. (AFP)

On Friday, the reigning Commonwealth Games champion booked a spot in the last four of the $850,000 Japan Open after comfortably defeating home favourite Koki Watanabe 21-15, 21-19 in 47 minutes at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo.

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This was the world No.13’s second victory in three outings against the Japanese to set up a men’s singles semi-final against Indonesian fifth seed Jonatan Christie with the record between the two locked at 1-1.

In the first six months of the year, the boy from Almora had suffered exits from the first couple of rounds in eight out of 10 tournaments he had participated in, reverse of the highs Sen achieved in the first half of last year when he reached the finals of India Open, German Open and the prestigious All England Open – winning the former – before also helping India win the celebrated Thomas Cup in addition to the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

But following his septoplasty in September 2022, Sen suffered from multiple health issues and allergies that affected his on-court performance until this month when he won the Canada Open in Calgary – his first title in 11 months – and followed it up with a semi-final appearance at the US Open in Council Bluffs two weeks earlier before making the last four of the Super 750 event in Tokyo.

Prannoy, Satwik-Chirag lose

Sen will be the only Indian in action on Saturday after HS Prannoy and the pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lost their respective quarter-finals.

Prannoy started off well against world No.1 Viktor Axelsen, rallying from 12-17 down to take the first game 21-19. He looked on course for a famous victory when he took a 7-1 lead in the second game but the top-seeded Dane showed his mettle to turn the game around and win 21-18. The reigning world and Olympic champion completely decimated Prannoy in the decider to win the game (21-8) and contest in an hour and 16 minutes.

Rankireddy and Shetty’s 12-match unbeaten run – which included winning the Indonesia Open as well as Korea Open – also came to an end when the world No.2 men’s doubles pairing lost to reigning Olympic champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin. Rankireddy and Shetty – who have won four titles this year – lost 15-21, 25-23, 16-21 in an hour and 10 minutes to suffer their second loss in four meetings against the pair from Chinese Taipei.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    From badminton to cricket, Sandip Sikdar writes on many sporting disciplines. He has the experience of working in digital, news agency as well as print organisations. Motorsport remains his first love.

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