Twice in a row: Lakshya Sen rises to the occasion for India at Thomas Cup 2022 finals
Lakshya Sen shrugged off a three-match losing streak to defeat Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Ginting in the India vs Indonesia Thomas Cup 2022 finals to give the gold quest a perfect start.
Lakshya Sen gave India the dream start to the Thomas Cup 2022 finals as he pulled off a stunner against Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Ginting of Indonesia and came back from a set down to win, 21-8, 17-21, 16-21 in a 65-minute edge-of-the-seat thriller. And as wonderful as it is, Lakshya Sen now leads 2-nil up against the World No. 5 from Indonesia in as many meetings so far.
The stuff of dreams for a 20-year-old? You bet!
Coming into the match on the back of a three-match losing streak, World No. 9 Lakshya Sen knew that he would have all eyes on him as he was responsible for being the one to step up for India, given that he is the top-ranked men's singles player - and live up to these expectations is exactly what Sen did.
Shrugging off the losses he faced against Chou Tien-Chen, Lee Zii Jia and Viktor Axelsen in the previous three matches he played at the Thomas Cup, Sen found it in himself in just the nick of time to turn things around and switch it up and give India the lead in the tie against 14-time Thomas Cup champions Indonesia.
Albeit the start of the match was a tad concerning with Sen slow on his response part and World No. 5 Anthony Ginting being simply ruthless with his attack, soon Sen came to the party from the second game, after a rather one-sided show from Ginting in the opener.
With loud cries of 'Lakshya! Lakshya!' filling the stadium air at the Impact Arena in Bangkok where the Thomas Cup 2022 finals being held and an energetic Indian team cheering on with their lungs out, there was little Lakshya needed to push himself just a little more and get creative himself.
German Open flashbacks
Having already won against Anthony Ginting at the German Open 2022, where Lakshya had recorded his first top-5 win, when he humbled him 21-7, 21-9, Sen was desperately on the lookout for a similar result today. Ginting however was far from his best at the Super 300 - today, it was a different story as the first game had Ginting go about on a 12-point straight rampage even.
By the looks of the first game, the signs were quite dangerous for Sen as he was also feeling the nerves, just 20 as he is, playing at this stage with so many expectations pinned on his shoulders.
But with expectations, also comes performance for Lakshya Sen as he used those nerves to psychologically turn around the match, getting better angles with his shots and confounding Ginting, who started making more errors.
Toying with the nerves and using the energy of the crowd to fuel him, eventually, Sen did the impossible as he landed the winning shot at the 65th-minute mark of the match, making the whole stadium erupt in joy as Sen crumbled to his knees, before lying down flat on his back, looking up starry-eyed, creating a frame that will stay in our minds for years now.
Coach Yoo Yong-sun also couldn't help himself and rushed to the court to hug Lakshya - the immensity of the win was palpable for the whole of the Indian team and to see Lakshya turn the match around, come back from behind and make things work out in favour, reinstilled the reason why Lakshya is the best player in the country currently - stepping up when the occasion arises.
Picking himself up, Lakshya rushed to the net to meet a dejected Anthony Ginting and gave the veteran a hug, creating another beautiful frame, displaying a great sportsmanship spirit.
If questions were raised for his previous three outings at the Thomas Cup against the very best's in the business, with this performance, Lakshya Sen, has safely silenced the critics again and truly showed what it means to be a man who can be counted upon.
Follow our live blog to stay up-to-date with the tie proceedings.