Former Junior World No 1 Lakshya Sen went down fighting in the men’s singles badminton final at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires on Friday, losing 15-21, 19-21 against China’s Shifeng Li. He became only the second Indian to win a Silver Medal in Youth Olympics after H S Prannoy who had won in the inaugural edition of the Games at Singapore in 2010.
The early exchanges in the Men’s Singles final between Li and Sen revealed its direction. Li was sharper and had Sen on the ropes with his attacking play; he was 11-2 up in a jiffy. Lakshya had a marathon semi-final against Kodai Naraoka, and its aftereffects manifested in his less-than-fluid movement, while his deep clears, so accurate in the semi-final, was a trifle wayward.
Sen pulled himself together in the second, exerting better control and playing more decisively. It was level until midway, after which Li again pulled ahead with Sen struggling to keep pace. A shuttle that died off the tape gave Li five match points. Sen made it exciting at the end by saving four of those, but he couldn’t prevent the Chinese from closing it out on the fifth opportunity.
Fourth seed Sen saved four match points in the second game to make it tight for the fifth seed from China but the latter held his nerve to complete a straight game win in 42 minutes.
“I was a bit nervous at the start and made a few mistakes, but after five-six points I got into the match,” said Sen. “It was a long match yesterday and I was feeling the strain. I was a bit confused with the high clears at the baseline and I made a few mistakes in judging it. It’s tough to recover after a long match in the semi-finals. I’m a bit disappointed, but it’s a part of the game. Tactically, I was trying all my strokes, but I couldn’t move fast today but my finishing shots weren’t good and I was playing a lot of loose shots from the back, so he could quickly come in.” Lakshya will now be prepare for the Junior World Championships to be held in Canada in November.
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