New Delhi : Former India coach Vimal Kumar is impressed with the title-winning performance of Lakshya Sen at the India Open but said the young shuttler still needs to work on his endurance and tactical acumen to have a consistent run in the international circuit.
The 20-year-old from Uttarakhand stunned world champion, Loh Kean Yew of Singapore 24-22, 21-17 in the men’s singles final to clinch his maiden Super 500 crown at the season-opening India Open here on Sunday.
”Lakshya was tactically much better, he was in control of the match, never allowed Loh to attack. His counterattack was very good. His net dribbles were excellent and with the same action, he was flicking the shuttle to the back of the court. Overall, he played a very mature game,” Vimal told PTI.
”He is at par with anybody, but he still needs to work on his tactical side, strength, and conditioning. He can work on stability around the net areas, his endurance can be better. So, technically there are all the areas where he can work on.
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”There are many youngsters from Europe, Thailand, and Japan, who will be gunning for him now. It will be tough ahead. I don’t want to put pressure on him by talking about the 2024 Olympics, it’s all about how best he can play, how best he can take care of his body,” he added.
Sen was not selected to represent India at the Sudirman Cup mixed team competition in Finland and Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark after he lost his first match to Sai Charan Koya at the round-robin group stage during the selection trials.
But a training stint with Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen and Loh Kean Yew in Dubai rejuvenated him.
”He was shattered after missing the Sudirman Cup and Thomas cup,” said Vimal, who has guided Sen since his young age as part of the Padukone Dravid Centre for Excellence (PDCE) in Bengaluru.
”But then (Viktor) Axelsen phoned him and invited him for a two-week training stint in Dubai. Loh was also there. So he stayed there and trained. That stint helped him to brush aside the disappointment,” he said.
A rejuvenated Sen entered the final at the Dutch Open, played some close matches against Japan’s Kento Momota, reached the semifinals at Hylo, reached the knockout stage at World Tour Finals on debut before sizzling at the World Championships with a bronze.
”Right from Europe circuit, he has been consistent in last three months. It is very important that he plays consistently well from now on. This performance will give him a clear understanding where he stands.” Vimal, a former Olympian, said Sen is known for his attacking game but in the last few months he has shown that he can also outlast his opponents in grueling three-game matches.
”There has been criticism in the past that once his attack doesn’t work, he runs out of ideas. But in World Championships, he played some tremendous rallies, and long exhausting matches and prevailed in those long matches and that gave him the confidence,” he said.
”He is playing better badminton overall and he is grabbing the opportunities. In the semifinals, it was tough against the Malaysian but he pulled through, he employed his smashes well. Also against HS Prannoy, he had a long match, winning these matches shows his maturity.” ”Many players can’t get that breakthrough, can’t convert opportunities. But Lakshya has the ability to beat good players.” Sen was in rampaging form three years back, winning five titles including two Super 100 tournaments but then the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of the BWF circuit.
”He was in good rhythm in 2019 but the pandemic was a damper. If he could have had that opportunity, I was confident that he could have qualified for Tokyo,” Vimal said.
”Many players suffered due to the pandemic, sometimes it kills the spirit of youngsters when you are not able to compete. I am glad he survived that phase and found the enthusiasm to play.”