In the return of competitive professional badminton’s, fast-rising Indian shuttler Lakshya Sen beats Christo Popov in straight games in the opening round of Denmark Open, which restarted the international calendar after the seven-month forced hiatus caused by coronavirus. The tournament pushed through despite the absence of top-seed players including World No. 1 Kento Momota.
Despite returning to competitive badminton for the first time since March, the Indian shuttler showed no signs of rust. He cruised into the second round after a comfortable 21-9, 21-15 win over the Frenchman. Sen, who had claimed five titles, including two Super 100 tournaments last year, held his position in mid-court, defending with poise despite 17-year-old junior world No. 1 Popov strong hits.
“I moved quite well, that was the key. In the second game he had a lead but I had made a few mistakes. I was able to cut down on them and find my rhythm,” Sen, who is currently ranked world no. 27, was quoted as saying by Badminton World Federation (BWF). “I’m very happy to be playing again after seven months and it felt very normal on the court.”
Popov won silver at the Junior World Championships last year and became the top ranked junior in the world in January this year. Sen had also won bronze at the Junior World Championships in 2018 along with a silver in the Youth Olympic Games that year. Sen was also ranked no. 1 in the junior rankings and is currently ranked 33 in the world tour rankings.
The 19-year-old Sen, seeded seventh in the singles event of the Super 750 tournament, will take on the winner of the match between Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus and Belgium’s Maxime Moreels in the second round. Denmark Open Super 750 event is the only World Tour event in 2020, with BWF forced to cancel multiple events and postpone the Asia leg and World Tour Finals to next year.
The BWF has allowed a maximum of 500 spectators daily into the Odense Sportspark following strict health protocols. After the Denmark Open, Sen would defend his title at the SaarLorLux Open in Germany, from Oct 27. He will also have a training stint at the Peter Gade academy. Kidambi Srikanth, Ajay Jayaram and Subhankar Dey are also competing at the Denmark Open.
Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen, Ajay Jayaram and Subhankar Dey are the only Indians participating in this tournament. “This is the best chance for Srikanth to get back to winning ways. With the withdrawal of Momota and other Japanese, only Chou is the top player in the event. The manner he practiced at the academy, I think Srikanth has a good chance to win the title,” said an Indian coach.
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