Birmingham, March 19 (IANS) World Championships bronze medallist Lakshya Sen scripted history by becoming the first Indian in 21 years to storm into the men’s singles final of the All England Open Badminton Championships, beating Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia in the semi-final, here on Saturday.
Sen, ranked world No 11, defeated world No 7 Jia 21-13, 12-21, 21-19 in an exciting semi-final clash which lasted for one hour and 16 minutes. With this win, Lakshya became the first Indian since Pullela Gopichand’s famous victory in 2001 to contest in the men’s singles final of the prestigious BWF Super 1000 event.
Overall, he became the fifth Indian shuttler after Prakash Nath (1947), Prakash Padukone (1980 and 1981), Pullela Gopichand (2001) and Saina Nehwal (2015) to reach the final of the Championships.
Notably, Only two Indians — Prakash Padukone (1981) and Pullela Gopichand (2001) — have won the prestigious title.
The shuttler from Almora began defensively against reigning champion Lee Zii Jia but changed gears after early exchanges to take an 11-7 lead at the break. Lee Zii Jia narrowed the deficit to 13-11. However, Sen won six straight points and took the crucial 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second game, Lee charged back with a flurry of smashes and forced the game into the decider. Both players took a defensive approach in the third game. With Lee leading 18-16, Sen went all-out to snatch the game and match by taking five of the next six points.
This is not the first time that Sen has accounted for a higher-ranked player this year. After winning bronze at the world championships in December, the young Indian shuttler started the 2022 season by lifting his maiden BWF Super 500 title with a win over World Champion Loh Kean Yew in India Open final in January.
After a brief break, Sen entered the German Open final last week by defeating Tokyo Olympics champion Viktor Axelsen. Lakshya Sen also defeated world No 3 Anders Antonsen in his second-round match at the All England Open.
The 20-year-old from Almora, will now either take on world No 4 Chou Tien-Chen of Chinese Taipei or world No 1 Viktor Axelsen in the final.
Meanwhile, in the women’s doubles, Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand will be seen in action, later in the day.
They will play the semi-final against German Open bronze medallists Zhang Shuxian and Zheng Yu of China high in confidence after an upset win against world No 2 Lee Sohee and Shin Seung-chan from South Korea in the quarter-finals.
Other top Indian badminton players — PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth — have already crashed out of the competition.