Lakshya Sen wins Canada Open, beats All England Champ Li

Wednesday 12th July 2023 09:02 EDT

Lakshya Sen ended his year-long title drought with a stunning 21-18, 22-20 win over All England champion Li Shi Feng in the Canada Open BWF Super-500 final in Calgary on Sunday. This is Sen’s first title after the Commonwealth Games gold last August.

After a splendid season last year, where he won the India Open Super-500 tournament, reached the All England final and won the CWG gold, Lakshya underwent surgery (septoplasty) on his nose late last year and struggled for form thereafter.

Despite reaching two semi-finals, Lakshya looked to be at his best only in this tournament, where he outclassed second seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the first round and Li in the final. He made a strong statement the way he came back from 16-20 in the second game. “I am very happy to win this tournament. I thank all those who supported me. Today I played the right game,” Lakshya said after the victory.

He said he was in no mood to give up at 16-20. “Towards the second game, it was difficult for me to predict anything because I was trailing all the way. All I could think of was to cover the lead. Even when I was trailing, I never thought I would lose this set. I went all out to score key points. The key was to remain patient,” he said.

Li praised Lakshya for the fighting spirit and said these kind of matches are good for badminton. “Li is a difficult opponent to play. He played a very good game but I did well at crucial times,” Lakshya said.

Lakshya’s two-minute display of his talent towards the end of the second game, when he won six straight points, was a good exhibition of his fighting ability. Lakshya will travel to America this week to collect some points from the US Open Super-300 tournament. The task for Lakshya, who is ranked 19 now, is to get into the top16 and be one of the two ranked Indian men. Only two Indians qualify for the Olympics if they are in the top-16 of the rankings.

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