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India Open | Lakshya stuns World champion Yew, clinches his maiden title

Lakshya Sen defeated the reigning world champion in straight sets.

When it mattered, Lakshya Sen produced the strokes needed to stay out of trouble and finally nailed recently crowned World champion Loh Kean Yew to claim his maiden singles title in the $400,000 India Open badminton on Sunday.

With a display of improved defence and fine mix of powerful smashes, the World Championships bronze medallist outwitted the gold medallist 24-22, 21-17 in 54 minutes.

This was India’s second title of the evening following Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty’s stunning 21-16, 26-24 win over three-time World champions and currently ranked second, Ahsan Mohammad and Hendra Setiawan.

But the victory of Lakshay in the most awaited clash dwarfed everything else.

Sensing that the shuttle speed at the K.D. Jadhav Hall was not to the liking of Loh, Lakshya cashed in on the opportunity and came up with quick-fire smashes that kept an otherwise speedy Singaporean guessing.

It was clear that Loh was not at this best on this day and Lakshya seized the opportunity to post his third victory in five meetings.

Bouncing back

In the 26-minute first game, Lakshya seemed in cruise mode when leading 19-14. But the World champion bounced right back to win six straight points and held a game-point at 20-19.

What followed was a battle of nerves. Lakshya made it 21-20 but Loh nosed ahead at 22-21. Eventually, Lakshya won the last three points and converted his second game-point.

In the second game, Lakshya broke away from 8-all and stayed ahead by at least two points to close the match.

The men’s doubles final produced its share of joy with the Indians saving five game points in the second game and converted their first in the most intense phase of the 53-minute contest.

With the slow shuttles demanding more endurance, the Indians had plans to tire out their rivals, aged 37 and 34. After claiming the first game with surprising ease and leading 19-17 in the second, Indians faced their first serious threat.

Gritty response

The Indonesians held five successive game-points from 20-19 but all credit to the Indians for their gritty response. Satwik’s predominantly attacking play, combined with a sound defence of both players, carried the day.

It was a huge moment for Satwik and Chirag to win a final against such a legendary pair. The Indonesians, nicknamed “Daddies”, are ranked second in the world and have three World titles.

This was the Indian duo’s second win over the former World No. 1 pair in five meetings. In the previous two matches, the Indian pair failed to take a game off the famed rivals.

This was a third BWF World Tour title for Satwik and Chirag following the 2018 Hyderabad Open and the 2019 Thailand Open.

Earlier, Busanan Ongbamrungpham outlasted Thai compatriot Supinda Katethong 22-20, 19-21, 21-13 for the women’s singles title.

Busanan became the third and second successive Thai winner of India’s flagship event.

In fact, in the last 10 editions, the women singles title has gone to Thailand five times with Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (2011) and its numero uno Ratchanok Intanon (2013, 2016, 2019) beating the field.

In comparision, Saina Nehwal (2010, 2015) and P.V. Sindhu (2017) have had less success in their home conditions.

The results (finals, Indians unless stated):

Men: Lakshya Sen bt Loh Kean Yew (Sgp) 24-22, 21-17;

Doubles: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy & Chirag Shetty bt Mohammad Ahsan & Hendra Setiawan (Ina) 21-16, 26-24.

Women: Busanan Ongbamrungpham (Tha) bt Supinda Katethong (Tha) 22-20, 19-21, 21-13.

Doubles: Benyapa Aimsaard & Nuntakarn Aimsaard (Tha) bt Anastasiia Akchurina & Olga Morozova (Rus) 21-13, 21-5.

Mixed doubles: Hee Yong Kai Terry & Tan Wei Han (Sgp) bt Chen Tang Jie & Peck Yen Wei (Mas) 21-15, 21-18.

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Printable version | May 9, 2022 6:34:51 am | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/lakshya-wins-maiden-super-500-title-beats-world-champion-loh/article38278517.ece