Japan Open: Lakshya Sen advance to semifinals, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty out

India’s Lakshya Sen extended his excellent run on Thursday, defeating local hope Koki Watanabe in straight games to get to the semifinals of the Japan Open Super 750 badminton tournament.

Sen, a bronze medalist at the 2021 World Championships, defeated Watanabe,  ranked 33rd, 21-15, 21-19, to advance to his third consecutive semifinal after wins in Canada and the United States.

The reigning Commonwealth Games champion, the 21-year-old from Almora, will face either Indonesian fifth seed Jonatan Christie or Thai third seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, the in-form men’s doubles duo, couldn’t bring their ‘A’ game, losing 15-21 25-23 16-21 against Olympic winners Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lan of Chinese Taipei.

Sen, who won the Canada Open Super 500 earlier this month, took an early 5-3 lead before moving to 11-7 at the break. The Indian didn’t have much problem negotiating the Japanese and quickly sealed the first game with two cross-court returns on both side of the court.

Watanabe tried to bring some pace in the rallies after switching sides, but Sen looked in command and went 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 before consolidating it further at 7-3.

Sen was trailing 7-14 when the Japanese strengthened his defence.

The Indian, however, attempted a comeback, pulling his opponent to the net and making effective 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 making another precise return at the back-line and then threw his racquet in celebration.

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