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BWF Worlds: Lakshya advances, Srikanth out

This was the Indians’ first win over a top-10 pair.

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Tokyo: Indian young badminton sensation Laksya Sen advanced to the third round of the BWF World Championships while last edition’s silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth bowed out of the tournament here on Wednesday.

Sen, 2021 bronze medallist, registered a 21-17, 21-10 win over Spain’s Luis Enrique Penalver at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium to progress to the pre-quarterfinals of the prestigious tournament.

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Srikanth, however, suffered 9-21, 17-21 loss at the hands of Chinese Zhao Jun Peng in the second round.

The 21-year-old Indian will next face the winner of the match between compatriot H S Prannoy and Japan’s Kento Momota for a place in the quarterfinals.

Last time, Sen had entered the world championships unseeded but went on to cause major upsets, including the victory over Tokyo Olympics semifinalist Kevin Cordon. He lost to compatriot Srikanth in the semifinal and settled for bronze.

On the other hand, the women’s doubles duo of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Pullela Gopichand too ended their campaign as they fell 8-21, 17-21 to Commonwealth Games champions Tan Pearly and Thinaah Muralitharan of Malaysia in the round-of-32.

Earlier, Dhruv Kapila and partner M R Arjun created one of the biggest upsets of the World Championships 2022 by taking down eighth seeds Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen. This was the Indians’ first win over a top-10 pair.

It was in the execution of the tactics that the Indians excelled, for Astrup and Rasmussen are among the steadiest pairs in the world. The Indians were sharp throughout, while as the match progressed the Danes looked off-key, failing to read the flick serves and making a few errors of judgment.

“Coach Mathias Boe told us it’s going to be a 50-50 situation throughout the match where there’s not going to be a quality stroke; everything is going to come into the racket. So if you’re not ready with the racket, you’re going to lose points. But then if you are ready, even if you play a bad quality stroke, it’s not going to be very aggressive from the other side,” Arjun told BWF.

“So our focus was just to get the shuttle across (the net). So even if you don’t play a quality dip or something like that, they’re going to be defensive, because they are one of the best defensive pairs in the circuit. They always try to defend,” he added.

“I feel like if we have a great plan, if we know what we have to do, then I didn’t feel like we’re playing such a good pair. I was just ready. I was not thinking about who we were playing. We just had a plan.”

The ace women doubles duo of Ashwini Ponappa and N Sikki Reddy suffered a 15-21, 10-21 loss at the hands of the Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Chinese combination of Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan.

And, the pair of Pooja Dandu and Sanjana Santosh fell 15-21, 7-21 against the South Korean combination of Shin Seung-chan and Lee So Hee of South Korea.

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