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Nirmal
Friday, February 3, 2023

As soon as the Indian challenge is over, Lakshya goes into battle.

FeaturedSports NewsAs soon as the Indian challenge is over, Lakshya goes into battle.

After an hour and 21 minutes, Lakshya Sen sank to his knees and the crowd rose to applaud. Across the net lies Rasmus Gemke, soaked and dry. It was hard to tell a winner but for a scoreline of 21-16, 15-21, 18-21 in Dean’s favour.

In a match where momentum shifted with virtually every point, Gemke managed to keep his cool to advance to the quarterfinals of the India Open here on Thursday.

Gemke, who had no answer to Lakshya’s jump smashes in the first game, controlled the rallies and dictated the pace in the next two games. “I knew I had to play my A-game. Lakshya is always a tough opponent. I wanted to be patient and wait for the right opportunities,” he said.

World No. 12 Lakshya, coming off a straight games win over compatriot HS Prannoy in the opening round, started the match strongly, nailing his jump smashes and finding the lines regularly. On more than one occasion, he trapped Gemke in the net before flicking the shuttle deep.

At 15-12 in the first game, a sluggish rally suddenly sprang to life as Lakshya snapped a wrist for a stunning backhand winner and followed that up with another smash to go 17-12 ahead.

However, things changed dramatically from there. The second game saw Jemke reduce his unforced errors even as Lakshya’s execution faltered. With her net play increasingly erratic, Lakshya tried some high toss to keep the shuttle in play but hit a long stroke. The 9-11 deficit slowly grew to 11-17 and it wasn’t long before Gemke forced the decider.

The world number 20 Dan raced to an 8-1 lead in the third game but Lakshya poured in five points of his own to close the gap. At 15-17, the two played a breathtakingly fast rally that wrapped up the match. With shots ranging from high toss to half-smash, forehand drives to backhand flicks, the two went toe-to-toe before Lakshya hit a long shot. A great smash brought the gap back to two points but a service error, followed by a net cord, and another long hit handed the game and the match a game.

“I had a very disappointing start in the third set; going down 1-8 is not acceptable. I could have taken a break in between, tried something different… waiting to go down eight points. Don’t have to and then start playing,” said Lakshya.

“I played well to cover the game, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.”

Gemke will now face world No. 1 and compatriot Viktor Axelsen, who defeated China’s Shi Yuqi 21-16, 16-21, 21-9 earlier in the day.

Saina Nehwal was beaten 21-9, 21-12 by Chen Yufei and the men’s doubles pair of Satvik Sairaj and Chirag Shetty ended India’s challenge in the Super 750 event after Satvik withdrew due to a back strain. has gone


(Tags to Translate) Lakshya (T) India Open(T) Lakshya Sen

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