Thailand Open: Lakshya Sen through to semis; Popov ends Kiran's fine run

Lakshya Sen
Lakshya Sen won in straight games. File photo: PTI/Shahbaz Khan

Bangkok: Star Indian shuttler Lakshya Sen stormed into the semifinals of Thailand Open Super 500 tournament with a straight-game demolition of Leong Jun Hao in men's singles here on Friday.

The 21-year-old from Almora punched the air after unleashing a jump smash, which sealed his 21-19, 21-11 win over the qualifier from Malaysia in the quarterfinals.

The win helped him to enter the last four for the first time this season, having come close in the Indonesia Masters, where he exited in the quarterfinals.

Lakshya, whose ranking has slipped to world No. 23 from a career-high of six following below-par performances this season, will take on Thailand's second seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the semifinals.

Toma Junior Popov
Toma Junior Popov won in straight games. File photo: AFP

Kiran George's giant-killing run, however, came to an end after he went down 16-21, 17-21 to Toma Junior Popov of France in another men's singles quarterfinal.

Keralite Kiran had beaten world No. 9 Shi Yuqi of China and world No. 26 China's Weng Hong Yang to reach the quarterfinals at a BWF World Tour Super 500 event for the first time.

Exciting contest

The Lakshya-Leong contest was an exciting one as the two kept pushing each other from the start. But after a 10-11 deficit at the interval, the Indian fell behind as the Malaysian managed to hold a 16-10 lead.

But Lakshya then changed gears, stepping up the pace in the rallies to restore parity at 17-17 before pocketing the opening game as Leong looked tired.

After the change of ends, he kept a tight grip on the rallies as his returns were sharper and precise. Soon he led 11-8, before breaking off at 13-11. He accumulated the next eight points in a jiffy to emerge winner. 

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