All England badminton: Lakshya goes down fighting in semis - Hindustan Times

All England badminton: Lakshya goes down fighting in semis

By, New Delhi
Mar 16, 2024 11:50 PM IST

The Indian, the 2022 finalist, lost to Indonesia's Jonatan Christie in three games in Birmingham on Saturday

Lakshya Sen threw everything he had in his arsenal, but a calm and assured Jonatan Christie had the response to whatever the Indian’s racquet came up with. Deceptive shots, lethal smashes, sliced drops; the Indonesian was not just ready but maintained his advantage playing an extremely tactical game to advance to the final of the $1.3 million All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham on Saturday.

India's Lakshya Sen in action.(AP)
India's Lakshya Sen in action.(AP)

The 2018 Asian Games champion ended Sen’s spirited challenge, winning 21-12, 10-21, 21-15 in 68 minutes to set up the first all-Indonesian final for 30 years against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.

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Christie’s third win against Sen in four meetings ended India’s challenge at the Super 1000 tournament which is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

The Indonesian world No.9 played a highly tactical match where he took the initiative in the opening game after close exchanges at the start. He upped the ante after being 6-all with deception, camouflaging his smashes into sliced drops from the back, flummoxing Sen. Christie was also better in the flat exchanges as Sen made some uncharacteristic errors, perhaps anxious to reach the title round a second time, having lost in the 2022 final.

Christie attacked at the right time playing percentage badminton, and more often than not came out on top to take the advantage in the match.

Sen, however, turned the tables in the second game. Coaches Prakash Padukone and U Vimal Kumar kept telling the world No.18 to take the initiative, which he did from the start. He attacked using the jump smash and stepped up his speed to change momentum.

Christie, who looked relaxed and confident in the opener, started making errors under scoreboard pressure as Sen ran up a 11-3 lead at the interval. Towards the end, Christie gave up his challenge, conserving his energy for the decider.

With the momentum with him, Sen led 3-0 and 6-3 in the decider, but Christie changed his game from attack to defence, letting Sen take the initiative. The Indonesian defended brilliantly as an over-aggressive Sen started committing errors. Knowing Sen had spent at least an hour more than him on court this week, Christie started tiring him out by making the Indian chase the shuttle back and forth.

Christie waited for chances and timed his attacks with exquisite smashes, bringing up some easy points. From 8-all, the 26-year-old kept winning points by playing smart badminton. He backed his fantastic retrieving with wonderful smashes to reach match point at 20-12. Sen saved three points before Christie converted the fourth, reach his first final of the year.

Despite the loss, Sen has had two positive weeks on the trot, having also reached the French Open semis last week, especially after seven consecutive first-round exits.

Sen said: "As of now I'm pretty disappointed with the result, but overall the way I have played the last two weeks surely I have the level to be there and win big tournaments."

He acknowledged fatigue had played a role in the loss.

"All the matches I played were really long and I could feel it in the recovery in next day's match preparation. All of them were required to win on the particular day. In some matches, I started really slow in the first game, and even having a good lead and not being able to convert them meant they went to three games. I won, but this is one thing I want to do -- close matches in two games so that I am fresher.

"I am really happy how I played the second game, but again disappointed I couldn't do well. I was hoping for a better result the way I played the second game. (Perhaps) I could have continued a bit more patiently. He played well in the third game, with patience. A few errors here and there at crucial moments (cost me the match)."

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    From badminton to cricket, Sandip Sikdar writes on many sporting disciplines. He has the experience of working in digital, news agency as well as print organisations. Motorsport remains his first love.

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