New Delhi: Defending champion Lakshya Sen looked in fine fettle as he registered a straight-game win over compatriot HS Prannoy to make a winning start to his title defence at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open Super 750 badminton tournament here Tuesday.
World No. 12 Sen, seeded seventh, was by far the better player on display as he settled the score against world No. 9 Prannoy after his opening round reversal at the Malaysia Open with a 21-14, 21-15 win at the KD Jadhav Indoor hall in the IG Stadium here.
Reigning champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also produced a clinical display to storm into the second round after beating Scotland’s Christopher Grimley and Matthew Grimley 21-13, 21-15 in their men’s doubles opener.
— BAI Media (@BAI_Media) January 17, 2023
Commonwealth Games champion Sen will next take on Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke, who knocked out two-time world champion Kento Momota of Japan 21-15, 21-11 earlier in the day.
Sen looked more attacking and remained steady in the rallies, producing some good winners to stay ahead at 15-9 after a confident start. He brought down the shuttle with a thud every time it was in his range, while Prannoy was erratic.
Soon the 21-year-old moved to nine game points, wasting three of them before Prannoy went to the net again.
The second game looked more competitive at the start but Sen broke off at 9-9 and never looked back.
“I could settle from the beginning, get my length and defence properly. In the Malaysia Open, I wasn’t able to control the shuttle. Today, my smashes and half smashes were working,” Sen said after the match.
Olympian Anup Sridhar, who has been roped in to train Sen in the pre-Olympic year, said it is important for his ward to stick to his natural game and make a good start.
“He was a lot more confident today. We had some good sessions last week. That’s helped him. He was aggressive, attacking and taking his chances, that made the difference,” Lakshya’s new coach Sridhar told PTI.
“He has corrected the mistakes that he did last week and Lakshya is an attacking player, that’s his natural style. If he starts defensive then that is something which doesn’t work. He needs an attacking start.
“This year, the focus will be to stay physically fit more than anything else.”
Satwik and Chirag, who had a semifinal finish last week in Kuala Lumpur, will be up against either China’s Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi or England’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy.
“We would want to win 3-4 more events and reach world No. 3 this year. We want to win a major event like the All England championships and better the medal at the World Championships,” Chirag said.
“Our main aim is to play as deep in the tournament as possible. Last week, it was a semifinal finish but now our goal has changed and, when we enter the tournament, anything less than a title gives us a bittersweet taste.”
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand also notched up a 22-20, 17-21, 21-18 win over France’s world No. 29 Margot Lambert and Anne Tran in the opener. It was their first win against their opponents in the last three meetings.
Among other Indians, N Sikki Reddy and her new women’s doubles partner Shruti Mishra went down fighting 17-21, 19-21 to Germany’s Linda Efler and Isabel Lohau.
Earlier, former top-10 player Shi Yuqi of China staved off the challenge from Indonesia’s Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo 20-22, 21-16, 21-15, and Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei beat Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen 21-18, 21-17.
Fifth seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei also prevailed 22-20, 14-21, 21-11 over Lee Cheuk Yiu, while Zhao Jun Peng beat Weng Hong Yang 21-19, 21-12.
In women’s singles, three-time former winner Ratchanok Intanon recovered from a back injury to get the better off Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei 21-13, 21-11 and Rio Olympic champion Carolina Marin beat 2017 world champion Nozomi Okuhara 21-13, 21-18.