File photo of Lakshya Sen©Twitter
India’s challenge at the Thailand Open ended after star shuttle Lakshya Sen lost a tough three-match men’s singles semifinal against Thailand’s second seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn here on Saturday. The 21-year-old from Almora appeared to be in control in the first match against his seeded opponent but lost his way as the match went on to eventually lose 21-13 17-21 13-21 in a match that lasted an hour and 15 minutes . Kunlavut next plays the winner of the other semifinal between Hong Kong’s eighth seed Cheuk Yiu Lee and France’s Toma Junior Popov. Lakshya had made it to the semifinals for the first time this season, after coming close in Indonesia Masters where he was knocked out in the quarterfinals.
His ranking has dropped to 23rd from a career sixth place due to a series of underperformances this year.
It was initially neck and neck between the two shuttlers in the first game before Lakshya surged to an 11-6 lead at the break.
The Thai came out strong after the break, winning four consecutive points to cut the lead to 11-10. But Lakshya upped his game just in the nick of time to take a five-point lead and finished the opening game quite easily without giving his opponent any chance.
The second game was fought on even terms between the two players as they matched each other to 10 points before Kunlavut used his cross-court smashes to take a slim 12-10 lead for the first time in the game.
However, the Indian forced his way through using long rallies and precise drop shots as the battle between the two players continued.
But Kunlavut upped his game a few notches, picking up four consecutive points to win the second game and take the game to the decision.
In the decider, momentum initially shifted in Kunlavut’s favor as he raced to a 5-2 lead, but Lakshya clawed his back as the two players fought tooth and nail.
The long rallies eventually took their toll on the Indian, who looked tired as the final game wore on, giving Kunlavut a sizeable 18-12 lead, with Thai then closing out the decider quite easily. PTI SSC SSC APA APA
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