Lakshya Sen sails into third round, PV Sindhu bows out of World Championships


Former champion PV Sindhu’s wretched run continued as she bowed out of the World Championships but Lakshya Sen advanced to the third round with a straight-game demolition of Korea’s Jeon Hyeok Jin in men’s singles here on Tuesday. The most successful Indian at World Championships with five medals, Sindhu lacked any sting in her attack and went down tamely 14-21 14-21 to old nemesis Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, a 2017 gold medallist and silver winner in 2019.

It is the first time in her career that Sindhu, seeded 16th, has failed to reach the quarterfinals at the prestigious tournament.

In men’s singles, Sen, bronze medallist at the 2021 edition, prevailed 21-11 21-12 over the world number 51 Korean.

The Indian, thus, settled his score against the Korean, who had defeated him in their only meeting at the Asia Team Championship in 2022.

The 11th seeded Indian is likely to face third seeded Kunlavut Vitidsarn from Thailand in the next round.

Sen has a 4-5 head-to-head count against Vitidsarn, whom he had defeated on way to Canada Open Super 500 title. Sen was alert and took the initiatives during the rallies, showing his retrieval skills, speed and shot selection to dominate the proceedings. The Indian lead 5-1 and slowly kept extending the gap against a struggling Jeon, who lacked the finishing punch during the fast-paced rallies.

Sen entered the interval with 11-6 lead and kept things under a firm grip even after resumption to quickly move to 18-11 before sealing the first game with three straight points.

In the second game, Sen opened up a 4-1 lead before extending it to 10-5 with a whipping forehand return. Another straight jump smash helped the Indian make it 11-5 at the break.

Sen continued to construct his points and got behind the shuttle early to produce clean winners to grab eight match points and converted it in his second attempt.

Meanwhile, Sindhu and Okuhara, best known for their marathon 110-minute-long 2017 World Championships final in Glasgow, have always produced engaging contests but the second round match at the Royal Arena turned out to be a lop-sided contest.

The duo has been troubled by injuries in the last 12 months and had missed the last edition. Sindhu came into the match with a 10-8 cushion but her game lacked the attacking prowess.

Facing off after three years in slow conditions, both the players went for high tosses and clears, looking to draw errors from the other but it was the former world number one Okuhara, who came up trumps with her precision.

After an initial duel of 6-6, Okuhara managed to grab three points and enter the break with a two-point lead.

The Japanese made it 16-12 after pouncing on a weak return at the net.

The Indian continued to go wide and long as Okuhara moved to 19-12 with a precise cross court return.

Another shot going wide from Sindhu gave seven game points to Okuhara, who converted after the Indian went wide again.

The change of sides saw a shift of momentum with Sindhu racing to a 9-0 lead following a series of unforced errors from Okuhara.

Okuhara, however, slowly started to dominate the rallies and reeled off five straight points with few good placements before making it 9-10.

A cross court shot helped Sindhu to gain a two-point advantage at the interval.

Okuhara started catching her rival at the front court and grabbed six points from 10-12 to turn the tables on the Indian.

At 13-16, Sindhu unleashed a trademark cross court smash to let out a cry but she couldn’t control her mistakes and eventually gave six match points to Okuhara, who sealed the contest after the Indian went long again.

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