Bengaluru, January 15: Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships bronze medallist Lakshya Sen overcame a stiff challenge from Malaysia's Tze Yong Ng 19-21, 21-16, 21-12 to reach the finals of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2022, where he will face Singapore's recently crowned world champion Lou Kean Yew.
Sen's hard-fought win in the tournament on Saturday (January 15), which is part of the HSBC BWF World Tour tournament series, also assured him his first final at the Super 500 level or above on the BWF Tour.
In the second semifinal, Loh got a walkover after Canada's Brian Yang opted out due to sore throat and headache.
Third seed Sen was the overwhelming favourite against world No. 60 Ng, but the tall Malaysian was in a different mood. Both players started the match with fast paced rallies with the lead changing hands at regular intervals.
Sen, who was making his debut appearance at the Yonex Sunrise India Open, then opened up a 14-10 lead before a flurry of errors allowed Ng to stage a comeback. The Malaysian won seven consecutive points to regain the lead and even though the home favourite managed to level the scores at 17-17, the momentum definitely in his favour.
Ng began the second game with the same tempo and opened up a 4-1 lead before Sen's solid defence dug himself out of a hole and found a winner on the next shot. The point probably gave the Indian the required self-belief and he began to assert himself a lot more.
The 20-year-old began to mix things up, playing softer drops to open up the court for an opportunity to hit winners with his cross-court smashes. Ng did manage to keep pace with the Indian till the mid-game interval but Sen was in total control thereafter as he forced a decider.
Sen was not going to let the momentum slip as he had figured out that NG was not really comfortable with his toss-drop routine. The Malaysian did try to prolong rallies and keep the shuttle in play but it was not enough as the Indian could find a way to hit the winners.
With his opponent tiring a bit, Sen clinched five straight points to end Ng's resistance and reach his first Super 500 final in the match which lasted an hour and seven minutes.
"The first game was really fast and he managed to win some close points at the end to win it. I stuck to my game plan in the next two games and it worked well for me," he said.
Speaking about the final, Sen said, "It's a good feeling to play my first Super 500 final at my home. Fans are not allowed this time but there were a few people in the stadium who were supporting me and it felt good."
Sunday's final between Loh and Sen would be their fourth meeting this year with the newly-crowned world champion winning two of the three earlier matches. Their overall head-to-head record stands at 2-2.
Speaking about the final against Loh, Sen said he was confident of a good match.
In the day's other matches, men's doubles top seeds Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan defeated Malaysia's Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi 21-15, 21-18 to reach the final.
India's only semi-finalists in women's doubles category, Haritha MH and Ashna Roy went down 12-21, 9-21 against fourth seeds Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard of Thailand.
The Yonex Sunrise India Open is shown live on Sony Ten 1 (HD/SD) and live streaming is availale on Sony Liv App.
(With BAI Media inputs)