Sen stuns world no 3 Antonsen to enter All England quarterfinals; Sindhu, Saina out


CHENNAI: Lakshya Sen has been operating with a new-found verve in recent times, accounting for some big names in the world of badminton in the process.

His elevated style of play was evident on Thursday as he frustrated a higher-ranked opponent in Anders Antonsen in the second round of the ongoing All England Open Championships in Birmingham. However, PV Sindhu’s quest for her maiden title in the marquee competition ended after she lost 21-19, 16-21, 21-17 against Sayaka Takahashi of Japan in the women’s singles second round.

Antonsen, on paper, was bound to be a formidable opponent. It was a battle between World Championships bronze medallists. Both had settled for bronze medals after losing their respective semifinals in the 2021 edition in Huelva, Spain.

Moreover, the World No 3 Dane had entered after getting the better of Loh Kean Yew in the opening round. But he had expended 74 minutes in the process. Lakshya, on the other hand, had spent just 33 minutes dispatching Sourabh Verma in Round 1.

Lakshya played with bundles of energy on Thursday as Antonsen struggled to match his intensity level. Antonsen tried every trick in the book to disturb Lakshya’s rhythm, but the latter was simply calm, forcing Antonsen to make mistakes and occasionally, outwitting him with his cross-court smashes and eventually taking the match 21-16, 21-18.

Saina Nehwal, meanwhile, put up a spirited fight against top seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in the women’s singles before losing 14-21, 21-17, 17-21 in the second round. Due to injuries, Saina has been a shadow of her former self in recent times.

Despite the defeat, the former World No 1’s performance against the Japanese player is a big positive. Even in her first outing against Spain’s Beatriz Corrales, Saina showed her fighting qualities, winning nine straight points in the second game to pocket the contest.

It will be an all-Japan women’s quarterfinal clash as Yamaguchi will face Sindhu’s conqueror Takahashi next. Sindhu, a double Olympic medallist, has thrived at every competition but has been unable to go the distance at the All England Open, with her best-ever performance (semifinal) coming in 2018.

Defeat on Thursday means Sindhu’s search for a title at the world’s oldest badminton event continues. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, India men’s doubles aces, spent just 27 minutes on the day to beat the German duo of Mark Lamsfuss and Marvin Seidel.

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