Lakshya, Satwik-Chirag in semis, fighting Sindhu loses epic battle against Chen in French Open

08:02 AM Mar 09, 2024 | PTI |

Paris: Lakshya Sen recorded a fine win, while Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also stayed on course for the men’s doubles title but a fighting PV Sindhu fell short in the women’s singles quarterfinals at the French Open Super 750 badminton tournament here on Friday.


Satwik and Chirag, the world No. 1 Indian pair, who had won the title in 2022, cruised into the semifinals with a 21-19 21-13 victory over Thailand’s world No. 32 Supak Jomkoh and Kittinupong Kedren at the Arena Porte de la Chapelle.

The Asian Games champions, who had defeated the Malaysian pair of Man Wei Chong and Kai Woo Tee on Thursday night, will next meet world champions and third seeds Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae, who had beaten the Indian duo at the India Open final in January this year.

Later world no. 19 Lakshya, who is trying to make the cut for Paris Olympics, also came from behind to outwit former world champion Loh Kean Yew 19-21 21-15 21-13 in a 78-minute clash.

The 22-year-old from Almora thus became only the third Indian to reach the semifinals of French Open in the super series and world tour era after Kidambi Srikanth (winner in 2017) and HS Prannoy (semifinalist in 2017).


The Commonwealth Games champion will face reigning world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn, seeded eighth, in the semifinal.

Earlier, Sindhu, who is on a comeback trail from a four-month-long injury layoff, produced a gallant fight giving ample display of her strokeplay and physical fitness during a marathon one hour and 32-minute battle against Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei of China.

The two-time Olympic medallist, however, had to settle for a 24-22 17-21 18-21 loss to the second seed and defending champion Chen in the riveting last eight battle here.

Sindhu vs Chen

The last time Sindhu had beaten the world No. 2 Chen was en route to her 2019 World Championships gold. Since then the Indian has lost to the Chinese twice in the last two meetings although she held a better 6-5 head-to-head record against her opponent coming into the crucial tie.

Playing a top-class opponent after quite sometime, Sindhu didn’t show any sign off the left knee injury that had pushed her out of the circuit since October last year.

There was nothing to separate the two as Sindhu produced an attacking display and also moved well on the court but a steady Chen managed to keep her nose ahead in the end.

Sindhu and Chen played some excruciating rallies with the Chinese using high tosses and lifts to keep the Indian at the back.

But Sindhu tried to step up the pace with both moving together till 6-6.

But Sindhu then dumped one at the net and sent another one wide while Chen unleashed a cross-court return to move ahead. The Chinese had five points at the break when Sindhu made a misjudgement at the backline.

An unperturbed Sindhu, however, slowly made her way back to first claw back at 15-15 to take a lead with a five-point run.

While the Chinese kept targeting Sindhu’s body, the Indian managed to gather points with some delectable drops, cross court winners and some precise returns at her opponent’s forehand corner.

From 19-19, the two moved neck-and-neck till 22-22 before Sindhu converted a third game point opportunity by unleashing a superb forehand cross court drop.

After the change of sides, Chen lead 7-4 but the Indian drew parity at 7-7 but the Chinese eked out a 11-9 lead at the break. Sindhu however kept the pressure and restored parity again at 13-13 with another delightful drop.

However, a rare service error by Sindhu gave Chen a chance and she unleashed a straight smash and a body blow to move ahead. The Chinese pulled away and roared back into the contest after the Indian sprayed another one to the net as the clock crossed the hour’s mark.

In the decider, Chen produced two sublime shots — a drop and a late cross net — to open up 6-3 lead but a barrage of smashes helped Sindhu claw back at 7-7.

The duo continued to test each other’s mental resolve during the tight rallies and was inseparable till 11-11.

Chen then grabbed five straight points but Sindhu managed to break the run of points with another lovely drop at 13-16.

But Chen was soon up 19-15 with a smash. Sindhu made it 17-19 but missed a backhand net drop to hand over three match points to Chen, who sealed it when another body return was sent wide by the Indian.


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