Badminton - Lakshya Sen
India's Lakshya Sen exults after holding off world champion Loh Kean Yew in men's singles final of Yonex India Open. Image Credit: BAI

Kolkata: Lakshya Sen, the 20-year-old World Championship bronze medallist, stunned world champion Loh Kean Yew 24-22, 21-17 to win the Yonex India Open badminton crown in New Delhi on a historic day for Indian shuttlers on Sunday. This is Sen’s first-ever Super 500 title.

Earlier, the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty showed nerves of steel to upset top seeds Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan 21-16, 26-24.

Sen took 54 minutes to win his first Super 500 title and imrpove his head-to-head record to 3-2 against Singaporean Loh.

A product of the Prakash Padukone Academy in Bengaluru, Sen was first to get off the blocks as he controlled the rallies brilliantly and put Loh under pressure.

He soon raced to a 16-9 lead and though Loh began to find his rhythm, the Indian looked in total control as he had five-point advantage at 19-14. But the world champion wasn’t going to just fold up and he turned the tables on the Indian by clinching six straight points to earn a game point. Sen saved two of them, wasted one himself but kept his cool to clinch the second and changed ends with a definite advantage.

Free state of mind

“It was a crucial first game. I was leading and then it became 20-20. But I managed to pull out the first game and it gave me a lot of confidence,” Sen said after the match.

Looking back at the entire campaign, the 20-year-old said: “I didn’t come with a lot of expectations in this tournament as I didn’t get a lot of practice after the world champion. But I came into the final with a much better rhythm as I played few good three game matches and I played more freely in the final today.”

Earlier, Satwik and Chirag displayed nerves of steel and even put their more illustrious opponents under pressure with their tactics to clinch the men’s doubles title.

Aware of their opponent’s prowess to play quick points, Chirag and Satwik had a clear game plan of playing longer rallies. That meant they were prepared to play softer net strokes and even lift the shuttle high to force the Indonesians into making mistakes.