Lakshya Sen, Satwik-Chirag Keep India’s hope alive as PV Sindhu loses in Yonex Sunrise India Open

Harpal  Singh Bedi

Lakshya Sen

Harpal  Singh Bedi

New Delhi: Former champion PV Sindhu’s hopes of regaining the title went up in smoke as she lost to Thailand’s Supanida Katethong  while home favourite  Lakshya Sen  and  doubles pair  of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy registered contrasting victories to keep Indian hopes alive as they made it to  their first Yonex-Sunrise India Badminton final  here on  Saturday.

Lakshya sen will take on  World champion Loh Kean Yew in the summit clash . Loh received a walkover in the semi-finals after Canada’s Brian Yang opted out due to sore throat and Headache

The chances of a grand finale were dashed when top seed PV Sindhu went down 21-14, 13-21, 21-10 in just under an hour against Thailand’s Supanida Katethong .

In the other women’s singles semi-final, Aakarshi Kashyap  lost  to Busanan Ongbamrungphan, ranked 64 places above her in the world ranking,24-26,9-21

Sindhu started favourite as she took  on Katethong, ranked 26 places below her .

It was the Thai left-hander who was the first to take off as she clinched seven straight points to take a 7-1 lead and had a five-point advantage at the mid-game interval. Sindhu just couldn’t find her rhythm and lost the game rather tamely.

However, she regrouped herself well in the second and though Katethong kept pace with her till 10-10, the former world champion was beginning to assert herself and clinched the game banking on her big smashes.

The decider started well for Sindhu as she took the first two points but once again began making uncharacteristic errors that allowed Katethong to take control of the proceedings. The Thai player countered her opponents cross court drives and the Indian had no way to fight back.

Earlier  Aakarshi , world No. 76  played  the long rallies against her Thai opponent, time and again caught her off-guard with flicks from the net and even earned five game points in the opening game.

But Ongbamrungphan’s experience helped her survive those game points and Kashyap ended up making the errors to hand over the initiative to the second seed. She could not recover from that reversal and lost.

India’s only semi-finalists in women’s doubles category, Haritha MH and Ashna Roy went down 21-12, 21-9 against fourth seeds Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard of Thailand

The Indian lost the first game but staged a remarkable  fightback to sniff out Tze Yong NG’s challenge 19-21,21-16,21-12 in 67 minutes to make his first final at the Super 500 level or above on the BWF Tour.

Sunday’s final between Loh and Sen would be their fourth meeting this year with the world champion winning two of the three earlier matches. Their overall head-to-head record stands at 2-2.

World Championships bronze medallist and third seed  Lakshya Sen was the overwhelming favourite against world No. 60 Tze Yong Ng but the tall Malaysian  came up  with a a determined  performance and made his fancied rival struggle for every point.

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In the quarter finals against HS Prannoy ,third seed  Sen had lost the first game before winning the next two.  

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 In the semifinal ,  Sen  raced to a 14-10 lead before a flurry of errors allowed Ng to stage a comeback. The Malaysian won seven consecutive points to regain the lead and even though the Indian managed  to level the scores at 17-17,Ng  held his nerves to win the game to go up 1-0.

The Malaysian  began the second game with the same tempo and opened up a 4-1 lead before Sen  found a winner on the next shot and after that it was  the Indian who started dictating the proceedings.

The 20-year-old began to mix things up, playing softer drops to open up the court for an opportunity to hit winners with his cross-court smashes. Ng did manage to keep pace with the Indian till the mid-game interval but Sen was in total control thereafter as he forced a decider.

Sen  maintained the pressure after figuring out that his  rival was  not  comfortable with his toss-drop routine. The Malaysian did try to prolong rallies and keep the shuttle in play but it wasn’t enough as the Indian could find a way to hit the winners.

With his opponent tiring a bit, Sen clinched five straight points to end Ng’s resistance and reach his first Super 500 final.

“The first game was really fast and he managed to win some close points at the end to win it. I stuck to my game plan in the next two games and it worked well for me,” Sen  said after the win.

“It’s a good feeling to play my first Super 500 final at my home. Fans are not allowed this time but there were a few people in the stadium who were supporting me and it felt good.” He said adding he was confident of a good match against  Loh .

India’s only semi-finalists in women’s doubles category, Haritha MH and Ashna Roy went down 21-12, 21-9 against fourth seeds Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard of Thailand. 

In men’s doubles, second seeds Shetty and Satwik once again showed why they are so highly rated on the international circuit by dominating the eighth seeded French pair.

The Indian combination grabbed the initiative from the word go with Shetty taking control of the net exchanges as they opened up a 11-2 lead and then maintained the tempo to pocket the opening game.

They will now face top seeds Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan, who defeated Malaysia’s Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi 21-15, 21-18 in the other semi-final.

Speaking about Sunday’s final, Satwik said they just want to go out and play their best against the pair they have idolised for years. “Every match is a fresh match against them. It’s important how we feel on the given day and we want to be at our best.”

Shetty felt that the key to winning on Sunday would be to control the net. “They may not be the quickest pair on the court but they are the smartest. They like to keep the rallies short and we have to counter their game plan.”

HSB

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