India's challenge at the Hylo Open Super 500 badminton tournament ended after both Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen suffered straight game defeats in their respective men's singles semifinals on Saturday.
After Lakshya, ranked 21 in the world, went down fighting 18-21 12-21 to 39th ranked Singapore's Loh Kean Yew in 45 minutes, Srikanth suffered a narrow 19-21 20-22 loss to Malaysian second seed Lee Zii Jia in the other.
Former champion Lakshya matched his opponent in the fast-paced rallies but lacked finishing as he suffered his second loss to Loh in three meetings this year. Lakshya had earlier lost the Dutch Open final Loh before beating him at the French Open last month.
On Saturday, Lakshya and Loh played some terrific rallies with the Indian grabbing six straight points to lead 8-4 at one stage. A few unforced errors by Lakshya, which included a long shot and a net error, helped Loh to break the run of points and he soon made it 10-9 after injecting pace in the rallies.
However, Lakshya ensured he had a slender one-point advantage at the interval.
Following the breather, Loh managed to turn the tables at 13-12. Lakshya wrested back the lead at 17-15 with four quick points. Loh made his way to 20-18 and fist pumped after sending one away from his opponent's reach.
Gruelling rallies featured in the second game also but the Singaporean continued the momentum, opening up a 2-0 lead and even though Lakshya stayed close, Loh managed to enter the interval with a three-point cushion.
Loh continued to hold fort after the interval and slowly distanced himself from the Indian, displaying an immaculate defence. In the end, a return going to net from Lakshya and then a smash helped Loh to reach match point and he sealed it with another stiff cross court smash.
In the later match, Srikanth too never lacked in intent but Lee was always a step ahead in the opening game. Lee opened up a 4-0 lead in the second but the Indian soon moved to 15-10 to raise hopes of a comeback. But Lee clawed back and sealed the contest with a cross court return.