World championship bronze medalist Lakshya Sen entered his first clash at the top of the World Tour Super 500 on Saturday with victory over Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open. Third seed Sen, ranked 17th in the world, will meet reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore in the summit clash on Sunday in a repeat of last year’s Dutch Open final.
The 20-year-old from Almora, who had joined his mentor Prakash Padukone, B Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth as a world championships medalist last month, posted a record of 19-21, 21-16, 21- 12 in the world. number. 60 Yong in a thrilling semi-final clash.
“It’s a good feeling to play my first Super 500 final in my home country. The first game was pretty even, I made some mistakes that cost me. But I kept my cool in the second and third games and managed to retire,” Sen said. he told him after the game.
Fifth seed Loh was beaten in the other semi-finals by Canadian Brian Yang after developing a sore throat and headache.
Sen will be keen to set the record straight after losing the Dutch Open final to Loh. Overall, the duo have a 2-2 head-to-head record with Sen losing two of the last three meetings.
“We are both playing well, it will be a good match tomorrow and I am looking forward to playing against him,” Sen said of his latest matchup.
Both midfielders showed their attacking prowess during the last four meetings.
Sen moved his opponent down the court with his returns and used his strikes to good effect to open up a four-point lead at 10-6 after initially losing 2-4.
The Indian entered the interval at 11-8 after Yong went wide.
After the break, Sen threw some hard shots to annoy the Malaysian, but he couldn’t sustain the pressure and Yong made it 14-14. The Malaysian left Sen clueless with a precise shot into the net to take the lead.
Yong then got a video reference to take a two-point lead at 16-14. Sen controlled proceedings thereafter to return to 17-17.
However, Yong won two game points when a Sen return went wide and sealed comfortably.
Yong carried the momentum in the second game, opening up a 4-1 lead. Sen did well to erase the deficit, but Young made sure to have his nose ahead at the break.
Resuming on 9/11, Sen continued his quest to turn things around. He retaliated at 13-13 and blasted his way to a 19-16 lead with a powerful forehand from his opponent. An error at the net by Yong gave Sen four game points and sealed it when Yong again made an error at the net.
In the decider, Sen got off to a confident start, leading 4-1 and then made it 9-5 with another jump cross. He played another precision shot down the baseline and with Yong wide, Sen entered the interval with a whopping six-point lead.
Sen went on a smashing spree thereafter to quickly jump out to an 18-12 lead. He grabbed eight match points off a drop goal and sealed it without much difficulty after his opponent got back into the net.
Sen had won two Super 100 titles, the Dutch Open and the SaarLorLux Open, as well as three international challenges in Belgium, Scotland and Bangladesh in 2019 before COVID-19 put a bit of a halt to his progress.
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Last year the youngster reached the semi-finals in Hylo, reached the knockout stage at the World Tour Finals in his debut before shining at the World Championships with a bronze.