India open: Lakshya Sen beats world champ for first Super 500 title; Satwik-Chirag take doubles crown


PTI

New Delhi, January 16

World Championships bronze medallist Lakshya Sen and the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty produced superlative performances to claim their maiden titles at the India Open.

While Sen secured his maiden Super 500 title with a stunning 24-22 21-17 victory over reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore, Rankireddy and Shetty became the first team from the country to win India’s flagship tournament after registering a 21-16 26-24 result over three-time world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia.

For Sen, who claimed his maiden World Championships medal in December, it was a repeat of last year’s Dutch Open final and the 20-year-old ensured that he had the last laugh after the 54-minute summit clash.

Sen and Loh had a 2-2 head-to-head record with the Indian losing two of the last three meetings. Leading the first game 16-9, Sen made many errors to let Loh back into the game at 19-19. The Indian saved two game points, wasted one himself but kept his cool to close out the opening game. In the second game, Sen kept it under control and eventually took the match.

“It was a crucial first game. I was leading and then it became 20-20. But I managed to pull out the first game and it gave me a lot of confidence,” Sen said.

“I didn’t come with a lot of expectations in this tournament as I didn’t get a lot of practice after the World Championships. But I came into the final with a much better rhythm as I played a few good three-game matches and I played more freely today,” he added.

“This is the biggest World Tour tournament I have won. In the closing stages, I was anxious to finish it off and I am happy I could pull it off,” he added.

“I think I played some good physical matches from the quarterfinals onwards. It will give me a lot of confidence going ahead for the season. Winning a World Tour 500 event is a big thing for me,” he added.

Doubles delight

Rankireddy and Shetty came into the final with a 1-3 head-to-head record against their fancied opponents but they showed nerves of steel and saved five game points to overcome the world No. 2 Indonesian pair.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty celebrate after winning the men’s doubles final. BWF

“It was a dream match for us, we still can’t believe it. We had a clear plan and we wanted to implement that and give 100 percent. I feel we played one of the best matches ever,” Rankireddy said.

“We wanted to stay neck to neck, we wanted to keep them under pressure. We thought let them make mistakes and let’s not give easy points They are best in taking quick points but we kept calm and played big rallies, that was the positive point. Even when we were 24-24, we wanted to play big rallies,” he added.

Shetty said it was special to win against their idols. “We couldn’t really get a title or a final last year but coming to our country and winning a title is a good start to the year,” Shetty said.

“It is special to win against our idols. Playing against our comfort zone and winning it in a way that we generally don’t play is something which we will take back from this win. It was one of the best games strategically… even when we won had medal at the Commonwealth Games or the Thailand Open, we stuck to things we were good at which is attack but today we won on our defensive game,” he added. —


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