File photo of Lakshya Sen© Twitter
The Indian challenge at the Thailand Open ended after star shuttler Lakshya Sen lost a tough three-game men’s singles semifinal against Thailand’s second seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn here on Saturday The 21-year-old from Almora looked in control in the first game against his seeded opponent but lost his way as the match progressed to eventually go down 21-13 17-21 13-21 in a contest that lasted one hour and 15 minutes. Kunlavut will next play the winner of the other semifinal between Hong Kong’s eighth seed Cheuk Yiu Lee and Toma Junior Popov of France. Lakshya had entered the semifinal for the first time this season, having come close in Indonesia Masters, where he exited in the quarterfinals.
His ranking has dropped down to 23 from a career-high sixth due to a string of below-par performances this year.
It was neck-and-neck between the two shuttlers initially in the first game before Lakshya surged to 11-6 lead at the break.
The Thai came out strong after the break and won four straight points to reduce the lead to 11-10. But Lakshya upped his game just at the nick of time to take a five point lead and the closed down the opening game quite easily without giving any chance to his opponent.
The second game was fought on an even keel between the two players as they matched each other till 10 points before Kunlavut used his cross-court smashes to take a narrow 12-10 lead for the first time in the match.
The Indian, however, forced his way with the help of long rallies and precise drop shots as the battle continued between the two players.
But Kunlavut raised his game a few notches and pocketed four straight points to win the second game and take the match into decider.
In the decider, the momentum initially shifted in Kunlavut’s favour as he raced to a 5-2 lead but Lakshya clawed his away back as the two players fought tooth and nail.
The long rallies finally took a toll on the Indian, who looked tired as the final game progressed, handing Kunlavut a substantial 18-12 lead and then Thai closed down the decider quite easily. PTI SSC SSC APA APA
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