Japan Open: Lakshya storms into third semis of the year; Prannoy, Satwik-Chirag crash out (Ld)

Tokyo (Japan), July 28 (IANS) Canada Open 2023 winner Lakshya Sen stormed into his third successive semifinal on the BWF World Tour but India suffered twin setbacks as top singles player H.S Prannoy and the in-form men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty crashed out in the quarterfinals of the Japan Open here on Friday.

Lakshya, who reached the semifinals of the US Open before losing to All-England 2023 champion Li Shi Feng, defeated Koki Watanabe of Japan in straight games, 21-15, 21-19 in a 47-minute clash on Court 2 at the Yoyogi 1st Gymnasium in the Japanese capital.

Prannoy failed to take advantage of 15-12 in the second game after winning the first and lost a hard-fought battle with top seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark as he went down in the quarterfinals, 21-19, 18-21, 8-21 in 76 minutes.

In the men’s doubles quarterfinal, the third-seeded combine of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty went down to Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of the Chinese Taipei, losing in three sets 15-21, 25-23, 16-21 in a 70-minute encounter.

The world No. 13 Lakshya Sen, who defeated China’s Li Shi Feng in the final to win the Canada Open a couple of weeks back, kept the Indian flag flying in this BWF World Tour Super 750 event with a commanding performance against home-favourite Koki Watanabe.

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist continued his superb run on the tour and will face the winner between Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn and Jonatan Christie of Indonesia for a place in the summit clash.

Prannoy, the other Indian shuttler to reach the men’s singles quarterfinals, stunned top-seed and former World Champion Axelsen of Denmark by winning the opening game of their quarterfinals clash.

Prannoy trailed Axelsen 1-5 after the Dane won four points in a row in the first game. Prannoy reduced the margin to 3-6 but maintained the edge of 17-12 before Prannoy won five consecutive points to tie the score 17-17. Axelsen surged ahead to 19-17 before Prannoy won four points in a row to win the first game.

The 31-year-old Prannoy jumped to a 5-0 lead in the second game and extended it to 7-1 as he maintained his advantage and looked on course to win the match and improve his 2-6 head-to-head disadvantage against Axelsen. However, the Danish shuttler fought back to reduce it to 7-5 and then to went on to level the scores at 15-15. Axelsen won four points in a row from 17-l to win the second game 21-18.

Axelsen, the Tokyo Olympic Games gold medallist, took advantage from 4-4 and won eight consecutive points to take a 12-5 lead. Though Prannoy tried to come back, his fight was over by that time and Axelsen went on to win the game and match.

–IANS

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