India shuttler Lakshya Sen progressed to the semi-finals of the Japan Open Super 750 badminton tournament here on Friday. He remains the lone Indian survivor following the ouster of HS Prannoy and doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.
World No. 13 Sen registered a 21-15, 21-19 victory over local player Koki Watanabe, ranked 33rd, to make his third successive semi-finals, following his exploits in Canada and the United States.
The reigning Commonwealth Games champion will play fifth seed Indonesian Jonatan Christie in the semi-finals.
World No. 10 Prannoy squandered an opening game win and a 7-1 advantage in the second to eventually suffer a heart-breaking 21-19, 18-21, 8-21 loss to world No. Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
Men’s doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty too went down fighting 15-21, 25-23, 16-21 to Olympic champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lan of Taiwan to end their 12-match winning streak.
A 2021 World Championship bronze medallist, Sen, who had won the Canada Open Super 500 early this month, opened up a 5-3 lead early on before moving to 11-7 at the break.
The Indian didn’t have much problem negotiating the Japanese and soon sealed the opening game with two cross-court returns on both sides of the court.
After the change of sides, Watanabe tried to inject some pace in the rallies but Sen looked in control and moved to 3-2 with a lovely cross-court drop. A 42-shot rally ended with Sen’s backhand crashing into the net as Watanabe turned it around to lead 5-3 before consolidating it further at 7-3.
The Japanese strengthened his defence and things seemed like going downhill for Sen, who trailed 7-14.
However, the Indian scripted a turnaround, drawing his opponent to the net and using the drop shots to good effect. He soon turned the tables at 18-17 with a cross-court smash. With two returns on his opponent’s backhand, Sen gained one-match point before producing another precise return at the back-line and then threw his racquet in celebration.
The Axelsen vs Prannoy duel lived up to the expectations with the two producing some mindboggling rallies.
Prannoy, who had beaten the Dane twice in the last three meetings, slowly fought his way back to clinch the opener and also conjured up hopes of an upset as he raced to an overwhelming 7-1 lead, only to run out of steam in the end.
Axelsen used his acute angles and steep returns to be 4-1 up. But Prannoy kept breathing down his neck, reaching 6-8 with a disguised backhand push.
Axelsen was called for a rare service error but he won another exciting rally to move to 13-9. Prannoy produced some steep returns on his rival’s backhand but Axelsen would dive to return everything.