Former champion Lakshya Sen’s impressive run at the Hylo Open Super 500 ended with a fighting straight-game loss to Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew in the men’s singles semifinals here on Saturday.
Lakshya, ranked world number 21, matched his opponent in the fast-paced rallies but he lacked finishing as he went down 18-21, 12-21 to 39th ranked Loh in 45 minutes.
It was his second loss to Loh in three meetings this year. Lakshya had avenged his Dutch Open final loss to Loh with a straight game win at the French Open last month.
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In the semifinal clash, Loh showed better discipline and precision to return the favour to the Indian. The duo played some terrific rallies with Lakshya 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. However, Loh made his way to 20-18 and fist pumped after sending one away from his opponent’s reach.
The second game featured gruelling rallies but the Singaporean maintained momentum, opening up a 2-0 lead and even though Lakshya breathed down his his neck, Loh managed to enter the interval with a three-point cushion.
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He continued to hold fort after the interval and slowly distanced himself from the Indian, displaying immaculate defence.
In the end, a return going to net from Lakshya and then a smash helped Loh to reach match points and he sealed it with another stiff cross court smash.
On Friday, Lakshya had notched up a 21-18 12-21 21-19 win over three-time junior World Champion Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn to reach the semifinal.
The 20-year-old, who had claimed five titles in 2019, had a decent outing at the Denmark Open and French Open with second round and quarterfinal finishes respectively. The shuttler from Almora was forced to pull out of the event last year after his father and coach DK Sen had tested positive for COVID-19.