"I want to break into Top 10 by year-end," determines Lakshya Sen after India Open quarters win
Seeing off Prannoy in a thriller, World No. 17 Lakshya Sen remains focussed on the year ahead and breaking into the top 10 with new coach, Yoo Yong-sung.
In his debut appearance at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2022, World Championship bronze medallist Lakshya Sen showed rave form as he battled past an aggressive HS Prannoy in the quarter-finals to make it to the semi-finals in 59 minutes. Going the full length, the match was a tussle of nerves and power that saw the young Sen locking horns with the veteran badminton player, HS Prannoy before going on to defeat him, 14-21, 21-9, 21-14 at the BWF 500 event being held at New Delhi.
After the spectacular win, Sen, all of 20, spoke to the press in the Mixed Zone interaction and gave insights about the match and his plans with his newly-appointed South Korean coach, Yoo Yong-sung for the year ahead.
Talking about the encounter with HS Prannoy, which was the third time they were squaring off in their careers but for the first time at this level, Sen recalled, "I have played him in the Nationals in 2017. I won that time. After that, we once played in the selection trial where he won..so it was a tie on the head to head. It was a close game, I'm glad I could rally it out...be patient and win," he said wisely.
Sen had started the match on the front foot and was leading for a good part before Prannoy started to dominate and snatched away the opening game. To switch things up, Sen's coach advised him to cut down on the errors and be more patient and engage in rallies - which is what turned out to be the trick to tame a dangerous Prannoy at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall Court 2.
Having faced off against Srikanth in the semi-finals of the World Championships in Huelva and Prannoy now, Sen analyzed them, "I think Srikanth has a better attack and from the net, he is very tricky with every shot he plays. Prannoy Bhaiyya has a very good defense and can rally it out...both of them have a very good but slightly different style of game but I think, Srikanth Bhaiyya is more attacking," he said.
It's no secret that Lakshya Sen has improved in leaps and bounds as a player in recent months and his bronze from the World Championships only stands testament to that fact. In September 2021, Lakshya went over to Dubai to train with Brian Yang, Viktor Axelsen, and reigning World Champion, Loh Kean Yew, which also seems to have played a factor in Sen's recent rise.
"I have only trained for a very short period with Viktor Axelsen, Loh Kean Yew..just for two weeks. It was a good sparring for me, different kind of training with good quality players...I got to play good matches, the one-on-one rallies and playing sessions we were doing. Those two weeks really helped me to gain confidence and movement on the court, just before going for the tournaments," Sen said, also mentioning that he would like to go for one more training session like that this year, whenever the opportunity comes knocking for the World No. 17 player.
The season of 2022 remains jam-packed with tournaments galore and promises to be hectic like anything. Speaking on that, Sen says, "This year we really have to be at our best and remain injury-free. A lot of tournaments are coming up like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, All England...then the Thomas Cup," he mentions.
"I didn't have much time to train with my coaches before the India Open but after this and Syed Modi, I'll have like a month or so to train and get back my fitness levels and plan some tournaments. It'll be important to plan which tournament to play and which to not play," the Almora-born player mentioned.
Having reached his career-high ranking of World No. 17, the former junior World No. 1 player in boys' singles, Lakshya Sen has bigger plans for himself by the end of 2022 as he is desperate to make the cut for the Top 10.
"I definitely want to break into the Top 10 this year. I am waiting for BWF to unfreeze the rankings so that I can improve on that also," Sen said with purpose, before signing off.
Lakshya Sen is slated to go up against NG Tze Yong in the semi-finals tomorrow and if all goes right, a dishy chance to spar off against World Champion Loh Kean Yew beckons the 20-year-old shuttler who is on a winning spree here.