Thailand Open Badminton: Lakshya Sen Enters Semifinals
Thailand Open Badminton: Lakshya Sen Enters Semifinals

BANGKOK: Lakshya Sen, the Star Indian shuttler, defeated Malaysia's Leong Jun Hao in men's singles in Bangkok on Friday in straight games to get into the semifinals of the Thailand Open Super 500 tournament.

The 21-year-old from Almora punched the air after hitting a jump smash that gave him a quarterfinal victory over the Malaysian qualifier by scores of 21-19, 21-11.

After coming close in the Indonesia Masters, where he lost in the quarterfinals, the victory enabled him to advance to the last four for the first time this season.

In the semifinals, the Indian, whose ranking has dropped from a career-high of six to 23 as a result of subpar performances this season, will face either China's Lu Guang Zu, the fifth seed, or Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn, the second seed.

However, Kiran George's incredible run came to an end when he lost to Toma Junior Popov of France in another men's singles match, 16-21, 17-21.

Lakshya and Leong were constantly pushing one another from the beginning, making it an intriguing competition. But despite trailing 10-11 at halftime, the Malaysian was able to maintain a 16-10 advantage, and the Indian fell behind.

However, Lakshya then altered tactics, quickening the tempo of the rallies to bring the score back to 17-17 before winning the first game as Leong appeared to be worn out.

He maintained a firm hold on the rallies after the change of ends because his responses were more acute and exact. He soon had a lead of 11-8 before stopping at 13-11. He quickly scored the next 11 points to claim victory.

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