Lakshya Sen, Saina Nehwal lost; India Open home challenge is over Badminton news

Defending champion Lakshya Sen was left heartbroken after losing narrowly to world number 20 Rasmus Gameke of Denmark in the second round as the Indian crashed out of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open here on Thursday. World No 12 Sen rallied from an 8-14 deficit to 13-14 in the decider after losing the second game but could not go the distance, beating Jem 21-16 15-21 18-21 in one hour and 21 minutes at the IG Stadium. Reigning men’s doubles champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty came into the tournament after a semi-final finish at the Malaysia Super 1000 last week, with the former withdrawing from the tournament after suffering a hip injury before their second-round clash.

London Games bronze medalist Saina Nehwal also found the going tough against Olympic champion Chen Yufei, meekly surrendering 9-21 12-21 in just 32 minutes to bring the curtain down on India’s campaign in the Super 750 tournament.

Earlier, Commonwealth Games bronze medalists Gayatri Gopichand and Trisa Jolly lost to sixth seeds Zhang Shu Jian and Zheng Yu of China 9-21, 16-21 in the women’s doubles pre-quarterfinals.

The rising men’s doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Gaur Panjala were also no match for China’s Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang, losing 14-21 10-21 in 33 minutes.

Sen was favorite to win the match, winning the last two bouts against GameK but the Indian couldn’t find his ‘A’ game when it mattered as the Dane showed better alertness and control to keep Trump coming forward.

The match started evenly with the two men engaging in long rallies. Both played high toss and clear and waited to eliminate poor returns.

Sen produced some sensational smashes and soft taps at the net to lead 17-12 after the two were locked at 9-9 at one point.

A cross-court smash and a drop gave Sen six game points. He converted at the third chance to earn bragging rights.

However, Sen was a touch off in his finesse after switching sides, allowing his opponent to take an early 7-5 lead. Jemke slowed the game down and soon the Indian was left with the task of catching-up. Jemke held on to his two-point advantage at the break before winning a controversial point to go 14-10. Sen’s shot missed the backline but the Indians protested as he felt it touched his opponent’s hand as it landed outside.

Soon it was 16-10 as Sen looked a little dazed.

Then, Sen sprayed the net twice before delivering two precise cross-court returns. But he missed the line again as Jemke held on for six-game points and converted when the Indian went wide again.

Sen got off to a poor start as his unforced errors allowed Gem to take an 8-1 lead.

The Indian then looped one over his opponent’s head and sent another away into the forehand corner, much to the cheers of the crowd to recover at 6-8.

Her backhand blocks and forehand low returns reaped dividends but managed to grab a four-point cushion at the break in a careful game.

On the recovery, Sen committed two silly errors again as Game took a 14-8 lead after unleashing a precise smash.

Sen brought his trademark hop smash to pressure the game, spraying wide and into the net to put the Indians up 13-14. The Indians continued to fight back before losing a long rally with Gemke leading 18-15, making another sensational shot.

Two precise smashes from Sen on his opponent’s forehand kept him in the hunt but he broke out and then served one out as Jemke grabbed two match points and converted when the Indian faulted again.

“It’s a disappointing start to the decider, going down 1-8 is not acceptable. I played well to cover the game but it wasn’t enough in the end. I think a few decisions here and there and I could have played more courageously. In the end But ultimately a silly mistake,” said a frustrated Sen.

“It’s hard to take, I was so close. I feel really bad about the last point. I was trying something new because my technique wasn’t working but I should have played with more patience.

“In the third game I wasn’t getting the rhythm. He was playing a good length in the second and third games, so I couldn’t finish the shuttle fast enough. The lead helped him play smart in a few points. I was under pressure, my rally game wasn’t patient enough.” Jemke will now face top seed and compatriot Viktor Axelsen, who defeated China’s Shi Yu Kui 21-16 16-21 21-9.

Also advancing to the next round were fourth seed Jonathan Christie of Indonesia, third seed Loh Ken Yu of Singapore and fifth seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei.

Top seeds Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, Spain’s Carolina Marin and China’s He Bingjiao advanced to the women’s singles quarters.

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