Denmark Open: Lakshya stays positive to beat Prannoy; Srikanth goes out

Lakshya Sen (File Photo) JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Lakshya Sen reached the quarterfinal of the Denmark Open Super 750, ending his streak of two straight losses to fellow Indian HS Prannoy with a confident, straight-games win on Thursday.

The world No 8 beat Prannoy 21-9, 21-18 in 39 minutes in their fifth match this year, taking a 3-2 lead in their head-to-head. The match was not as lopsided as the scoreline suggests, with Prannoy making a solid comeback in the second game but the 21-year-old learnt from his past mistakes and stayed positive to clinch the close second game.

Both were coming off big wins in the opening round, with Lakshya beating sixth seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Prannoy finally getting his first win in three meetings over Zhao Jun Peng, a medallist the World Championships in August.

But in the second round, it was Lakshya who started with his foot on the pedal and accelerated away to a massive lead while Prannoy struggled to adjust his length and committed a spate of errors. Not much seemed to be working for Prannoy early on as he missed his lines while Lakshya maintained steady pressure from the other end.

Lakshya went into the mid-game interval with a huge 11-3 lead and his fast play forced errors from Prannoy, who fell more than 10 points behind. In the second half, the youngster's superb defence was switched on as he lunged for a shot, got up and returned to win a point, indicative of his good touch trough the game.

Both players were without their coaches at changeover, given their compatriots.

The second game was diametrically opposite with Prannoy regaining his rhythm and keeping scoreboard level till the very end. This game featured a lot more of the cracking, all-court rallies both players are known for.

Once Prannoy levelled the scores at 4-4 when Lakshya hit one wide, it seemed like there would be a shift in momentum. The 30-year-old took the lead after a long-drawn rally saw Lakshya hit wide again and thus began a gritty battle between the two who know each other's game very well. There were aggressive winners and body smashes and this time it was Prannoy who went into the interval with a lead, albeit an advantage of just a point.

The one-point lead fluctuated between the two through the second half, with Prannoy was psyching himself up with roars and fist-pumps at every point. Lakshya, however, stayed positive and stuck to his plan to slowly build his lead back. A couple of smart winners and Lakshya had match points, the second of which he converted with a virtual no-look backhand. Arms in triumph for a second, before going for a hug at the net.

Lakshya would no doubt be relieved to finally get one back over Prannoy, whose last two wins came at momentous tournaments - the Indonesia Open Super 1000 and the World Championships. The new world No 8 has a good chance to go deep in this tournament with his section of the draw more open after the Indians' first round heroics. Up next for him is the winner of Kodai Naraoka and Lu Guang Zu.

Satwik-Chirag win, Srikanth exits

Earlier in the day, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, seeded seventh in the tournament, advanced to the quarterfinals while Kidambi Srikanth, women's doubles duo of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand as well as the mixed doubles pair of Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto went down in the second round.

Satwik and Chirag started the day for India with a 21-14 21-16 win over Indonesia's Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Maulana Bagas - the All England champions - in a 36-minute round of 16 match.

In the quarterfinals, they face their now nemesis - fourth seeded Malaysian pair of Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik, who they are yet to beat in six meetings.

Former champion Denmark Open Kidambi Srikanth lost to seventh seed Loh Kean Yew of Singapore 13-21,15-21 in a match that lasted 35 minutes.

Srikanth, the 2021 World Championships silver medallist, had won the title here in 2017. He had a head-to-head record of 1-1 against Yew before Thursday's match.

Treesa and Gayatri lost to the sixth seeded Thai pair of Jongkolphan Kititharakul 21-23 13-21, Ishaan and Tanisha suffered 16-21 10-21 defeat against second seeded Japanese duo of Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.

With PTI Inputs