India’s Lakshya Sen recorded a 21-9, 21-16 win over compatriot Rahul Bharadwaj to move into the semifinals of the 2019 Dutch Open Super 100 Series in Almere, Netherlands.
In a tie that lasted just under 40 minutes, the 2018 Youth Olympics silver medallist, Sen, was the better shuttler throughout the match and rightfully sealed his place in the last four of the competition.
The 18-year-old will take on Sweden’s Felix Burestedt who beat Russian Sergey Sirant 21-11, 22-20 to secure his place in Saturday’s semi-final.
On the money
With both Indian shuttlers hailing from the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru, one would have expected the tie to be a cagey affair.
But it seemed Sen was in no mood for a slow start as he romped to 6-2 in no time, catching his opponent by surprise at times with his powerful backcourt smashes. The Uttarakhand-born teenager was smart with his drop shots and wasted no opportunity to make his intentions clear as he toyed with Bharadwaj for the larger part of the opening game.
If the 11-3 lead at the mid-game interval was not enough, Sen ensured that his opponent barely had a sniff of the game post the break as he took the first game without breaking a sweat.
Bharadwaj, on his part, made things easy for Sen as he looked out of sorts throughout the game after an initial slip that saw him land in an awkward position.
Resistance in play
The second game too followed a similar pattern with Sen calling the shots with his fine court coverage. The youngster was quick on his feet and mixed his shots often catching his opponent off guard to take an 11-6 lead at the mid-game interval.
Post the break though, Bharadwaj fought back to close the gap to 11-15 and then stayed on his opponent’s toes till 14-18. But Sen, the former World No. 1 in the junior circuit, ensured there were no slip-ups from his end as he wrapped up the match soon after to keep his challenge alive.