Lakshya’s run ends in Japan Open semis - Hindustan Times

Lakshya’s run ends in Japan Open semis

Jul 29, 2023 07:40 PM IST

India’s world No.13, who has been in excellent form, rallied to win the second game before losing to Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie in a hard-fought match

Lakshya Sen’s fine run was brought to an end by Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie as he lost in three games in the semi-finals at the $850,000 Japan Open in Tokyo on Saturday. Sen fought hard against the fifth seeded Indonesian but lost 15-21, 21-13, 16-21 in 68 minutes at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. It was his second loss in three meetings against the world No.9.

Lakshya Sen of India hits a return against Jonatan Christie of Indonesia during their men's singles semi final match in the fifth day of the Japan Open (AFP)
Lakshya Sen of India hits a return against Jonatan Christie of Indonesia during their men's singles semi final match in the fifth day of the Japan Open (AFP)

Aiming to enter his second final of the year, Sen, the world No.13, started well to go 7-4 up in the first game as both shuttlers found it difficult to get into their groove due to the drift. The 2022 Commonwealth Games champion was quick and sharp with his returns, but Christie matched Sen’s pace. The Indonesian attacked Sen’s body and used his experience to take the attack to the Indian.

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The contest was neck-and-neck till 12-all but Christie started dominating Sen at the net, which is the Indian’s strength. A couple of line judgement calls also didn't go Sen's way which helped Christie take the lead in the contest in just 20 minutes.

The loss of the first game charged up Sen who forced Christie into making errors. Some wonderful cross court smashes made the Indonesian play an extra shot, helping the Indian to win more points. Multiple fist pumps indicated Sen’s joy as he pulled away to win the second game in 22 minutes, keeping alive his chance of becoming the Indian to win the Super 750 tournament.

Some stunning reflex shots kept the crowd at the edge of their seats at the start of the decider. But brilliant defence saw Christie win some incredible points and take a four-point lead at the mid-game interval (11-7). Desperate to close the gap, Sen started taking risks under pressure. While some paid off, most didn’t as the errors made sure Christie always maintained a gap of at least three points.

Christie never let go of the lead and won the contest on his second match point to enter his second final of the year, having won the Indonesia Masters in January. In Sunday’s final, Christie will face world and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

After struggling on the circuit for almost a year, the 21-year-old Sen finally struck form earlier this month by winning the Canada Open – his first title in 11 months – in Calgary. He followed it up by reaching the US Open semi-final before this performance in Tokyo.

“We could have had the win in the bag today. But we will try our best to recover and get back for next week,” Anup Sridhar, Sen’s coach, said from Tokyo.

Sen flies out to Sydney for next week’s Australian Open, a Super 500 tournament.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.
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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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