Lakshya enters semis, Satwik-Chirag duo suffer defeat


India’s star shuttler Lakshya Sen extended his excellent run, defeating local hope Koki Watanabe in straight games to enter the semifinals of the Japan Open Super 750 badminton competition in Tokyo. The 2022 Commonwealth Champion Sen registered a straight-set 21-15 21-19 victory over Watanabe to make his third successive semifinals, following his exploits in Canada and the United States.
Sen, who won the Canada Open Super 500 earlier this month, jumped out to a 5-3 lead early on before closing to 11-7 at the break. The Indian had little trouble maneuvering the Japanese and quickly sealed the opening game with two cross-court returns on both sides of the court. Watanabe tried to infuse some energy into the rallies after switching sides, but Sen looked in command and moved to 3-2 with a stunning cross court drop. A 42-shot rally finished with Sen’s backhand falling into the net, giving Watanabe a 5-3 lead. Sen, who trailed 7-14, staged a comeback, pulling his opponent to the net and making good use of drop shots. With a cross-court smash, he quickly turned the tables at 18-17. Sen secured one match point with two returns on his opponent’s backhand before producing another crisp return at the backhand line to clinch the match against his Japanese opponent.
Meanwhile, the Indian in-form men’s doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty failed to bring their ‘A’ game into the match, falling 15-21 25-23 16-21 to Olympic winners Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lan of Chinese Taipei. On the other hand, HS Prannoy lost his quarter-final clash to World No. 1 shuttler Viktor Axelsen in the ongoing Japan Open 2023 on Friday.