Shuttler Lakshya stuns world champ to win India open

Wednesday 19th January 2022 06:41 EST

Lakshya Sen, the new poster boy of Indian badminton, won the battle of the GenNext against newly crowned world champion Loh Kean Yew to annex the India Open men’s badminton title in New Delhi on Sunday. In a match which was as much about skill as it was of speed and mental strength, the 20-year-old homeboy prevailed 24-22, 24-17 over his opponent from Singapore. With this win, world No. 17 Sen, a product of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) in Bengaluru, became the third Indian male shuttler after Padukone (1981; Pune Masters then ) and Kidambi Srikanth (2015) to win the competition.

In the past four months, the rivalry between Sen and Yew, ranked 15th in the world, has been riveting. It started at the Dutch Open in October where the 24-year-old Yew dethroned Sen. Their head-to-head is 2-2 all. All their four recent meetings have been two-game contests marked by intent, intensity and aggression. The duo understands each other’s game well, especially since they were among the five talented shuttlers picked by Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen to train with him last year in Dubai.

On the camaraderie with his opponent, which was on show after the match, Sen said, “We know each other’s game well and what to expect from the other. We’ve had four encounters in the last six months and have trained together in Dubai. We are good friends off the court, but on it, we just want to beat the other.”

Double delight

India's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty shocked world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia to claim their first India Open crown with a 21-16, 26-24 victory. It was a morale-boosting victory for Chirag-Satwik too. Considered as one of the best in the world, their rise to the top was affected by injuries and Covid. “It was a dream match for us, we still can't believe it. We had a clear plan and we wanted to implement that and give 100%. I feel we played one of our best matches ever. We stayed calm. I could see they were under pressure. We’re so happy with the win,” Satwik said. His partner Chirag also rated this as one of their best wins.

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