Lakshya on target, moves into final of Asian Juniors

New Delhi, July 20: Sixth-seeded Lakshya Sen is on a roll. After felling second seed Li Shifeng in quarterfinals yesterday, the Indian disposed of fourth-seed Indonesian Ikhsan Leonardo Imanuel Rumbay 21-7, 21-14 in men singles semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Junior Championships on the fourth day of the individual events at Jakarta today.

In the title showdown tomorrow Lakshya will meet top-seeded Indonesian Kunlavut Vitidsaran who defeated third-seeded Chinese Yupeng Bai 21-14, 21-12.

“It feels good to be in the final. I am happy with the way I am playing now and hope to maintain the tempo in tomorrow’s final,” said Lakshya after the semi-final match.

Indeed, the tempo was on his side and, for a change, the crowd too cheered for him when he reeled off points in quick succession in the first game. He was quick on his feet and smashed anything tossed up to him by the local boy. So much so, Lakshya ran up a solid lead and was almost half way down when Rumbay picked up a few points to launch himself.

Though the entire match took 40 minutes, his first game was over in less than 16 minutes. In the second game, however, Rumbay did well to resurrect himself but the Indian was always ahead by at least three points. That helped him so much that he rocked the Indonesian boat so well that the crowed joined to applaud him whenever he won points after long rallies.

The fourth seed Indonesia played well in the second but could never come close to challenge the authority of Lakshya. There were, of course, a couple of occasions when Rumbay with some good net-play and cross-court smashes surprised the Indian. But Lakshya was quick enough to return the compliment, in his own way.

Lakshya will be playing the Thailand player, incidentally it will also be their first meeting. “I have never faced him before. But I will definitely try and give my best shot against the top-seed,” said Lakshya on his strategy for tomorrow.

Whatever the result tomorrow Lakshya, who won a bronze in 2016 Asian Juniors, will have bettered his previous best.

Apart from that, the 18-year-old player from Uttarakhand will also join an elite band of Indians shuttlers like Gautam Thakkar (Gold) in 1965, Pranav Chopra/Prajkta Sawant (Bronze) in 2009, Sameer Verma (Silver) and P.V. Sindhu (Bronze) in 2011 and P.V. Sindhu (Gold) and Sameer Verma (Bronze) in 2012.

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