Archive photo of Lakshya Sen.© AFP
World Championship bronze medalist Lakshya Sen stunned Olympic gold winner Viktor Axelsen in a hard-fought match to enter the final of the German Open Super 300 tournament in Muelheim An Der Ruhr, Germany on Saturday. 20-year-old Sen, who claimed his first Super 500 title at the India Open in January, continued his rich form as he beat the world No. 1 and Axelsen with a 21-13 12-21 22-20 win. the semi-final which lasted an hour and 10 minutes.
It was a memorable performance by the world’s number 12 Indian as he recorded his first win over his coveted rival, who had a 4-0 head-to-head record for Saturday’s game.
In the final on Sunday, Sen will face Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn, who defeated Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia in the other semi-final.
Sen led the first game which lasted 21 minutes. He didn’t give the Dane a chance to beat him. Axelsen struggled to match Sen’s pace in the first game.
Sen led off with a 4-1 lead, then extended it to 9-4. But Axelsen narrowed it to 7-9 before Sen took four consecutive runs to make it 13-7. Sen’s offensive play paid off as he picked up five straight runs to lead 18-10 before winning the first game with ease.
Axelsen made a comeback in the second game to make one and take the game to the decider. He trailed 3-8 early on, but used his height and reach to good effect to take five consecutive points and bring the score to 8-8 before zooming forward. From that moment on, Sen lost the way and Axelsen took the second game without fuss.
The two players last put their best foot forward and fought tooth and nail in the dramatic tie-breaker. It turned out to be a nerve-wracking battle as the rallies got longer and both battled for every point. From 2-2 it was 4-4 and then 6-6 before Axelsen took the lead 15-8.
But the young Indian fought back in remarkable fashion to close the gap to 15-17 and then 17-19. He tied the score at 19-19 and then 20-20 before sealing the game with two consecutive runs.
In the quarter-finals, Sen had defeated compatriot and former top 10 player HS Prannoy 21-15 21-16.
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