Lakshya Sen’s ambitious attempt to take on Lin Dan ended in a 15-21, 21-15, 21-12 defeat for the young shuttler in the pre-quarterfinals of the New Zealand Open. In the other games, Sameer Verma and B Sai Praneeth advanced into the quarterfinals while Ajay Jayaram had to bow out in a strong contest.
Sen started on toe-to-toe with Lin Dan with both the shuttlers exchanging regular points with the Chinese going into the break 11-9. However, Sen came back to level points at 12-12 before marching on to the crowd’s utter delight. Taking the lead at 14-13, the Indian kept his lead intact despite Dan coming extremely close at 16-15. He won five consecutive points from there to seal the first game 15-21.
The pressure was now directly on Dan and he showed all his experience to make a comeback in the second game. It was pretty straightforward though with Sen looking to gradually lose steam as the game progressed. He could only level things at 1-1, following which it was the Chinese legend all the way as he came closest to level things in 4-3. Dan went into the break with an insurmountable lead at 11-4 and eventually
Sen had one last chance to break the headline and the youngster showed early determination to keep the momentum but it had a similar outcome. After Dan went into the break 11-6, Sen’s last-ditch attempt saw him cutting the margin to 12-10 before Dan ran away with a 21-12 victory.
The match between the duo had gained much significance after Sen overcame Malaysia’s June Wei Cheam in straight sets. People even compared Sen’s tactics of attacking and finishing of rallies off early to that of Dan’s heydays. However, it seems that the Indian has a long way to go to reach anywhere near it.
In the other singles games, while Sameer Verma defeated Lee Cheuk Yeu 21-17, 21-19 in straight sets and B Sai Praneeth beat Daren Liew 21-18, 21-17, Ajay Jayaram was humbled by Kwang Hee Heo 21-15, 20-22, 21-6.