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Indonesia Open Super 1000: Lakshya Sen defeats Lee Zii Jia, sets up second round clash with Srikanth

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Lakshya Sen defeated eighth see Lee Zii Jia to book his place in the second round of the Indonesia Open Super 1000 event in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Srikanth Kidambi also registered a straight-games win in his match to set up an all-Indian round-of-16 clash with Sen. The former world No 1 defeated world No 22 Lu 21-13, 21-19 in the first-round clash.

Priyanshu Rajawat also progressed in men’s singles, on the account of a walkover from world No 3 Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

Sen wins, Lee announces a break

Sen came through a tricky test on paper with relative ease as he defeated former All England champion Lee in straight games, 21-17 21-13.

The opening game was a streaky affair with the Indian and Malaysian shuttlers exchanging leads with a string of points. At different points, Sen trailed 10-13, 12-15, 13-16. But from there Lee won only one point as Sen closed the gap and put on a run to take the lead 21-17.

The second game saw Lee get off a terrible start, trailing 3-11 at the interval with a flurry of errors. While Sen too went off the boil a little bit after the interval while Lee tried to close the gap down, the damage was already done.

This match was the replay of the 2022 All England semi-final that Sen had won. For Lee, the inconsistencies on the tour continue while Sen himself is on the comeback trail after slipping out of the top 20 due to an indifferent start to the season.

The Malaysian, who has spent a total of 12 weeks as world No 2, later told BWF that he was going to stop playing for a while. “Lakshya played very well today,” Lee is quoted as saying by BWF. “I think for now I will probably temporarily quit badminton. I don’t know how long I will take, but I will quit badminton for a while, until I get motivation again. I will take a break and get rest for a while.”

“Maybe I will stop playing tournaments — I don’t know for how long. I have been considering this for quite long. It’s too much for me on court, I can’t concentrate 100 per cent. It will be good for me to take a break. The priority for me is to find my passion on court. I did well at the Sudirman Cup, but I haven’t done much different after that.”

Incidentally, Sen had taken a break recently too after struggling with form and fitness during the European swing. “It’s important to take breaks and I wanted to share something with people out there,” Sen had told Scroll in an interview. “Like, every few months, I take a break from the usual and go to a certain place. I have never spoken about it in the past, just used to keep (the conversation) only about playing. With Instagram, I’m trying to show something other than badminton. I think I wanted to also give a message that it’s okay to take breaks some time, reset and rejuvenate.”

Srikanth survives a nervy ending

Srikanth came into this match with a 5-0 Head-to-Head against Lu and started much better of the two players. The Indian didn’t lose the lead even once and closed it out 21-13. The control of his crosscourt smashes stood out as Lu barely got a look in.

The second game was a much closer contest to start but Srikanth, a former winner here, started to push ahead either side of the interval. At one stage, there was a 18-11 lead for the Indian. But there were flashbacks to Singapore last week when Chia Hao Lee trailed 12-19 before winning the match 21-19. Srikanth started to make errors as Lu closed in, making it 19-19. But the Indian steadied himself to close the match out in straight games.

The result confirmed at least one Indian quarterfinalist this week in Indonesia after the last-eight no-show in Singapore. Srikanth and Sen have met twice on the international circuit, and the former has won both times, including the World Championships semifinal in 2021.

In women’s singles, Aakarshi Kashyap was facing arguably the toughest challenge in world badminton at the moment: taking on An Se Young. The Korean has been in sensational form in 2023 and has reached the finals in all the events she has entered, recently winning the Singapore Open last week. The Indian was off to a decent start in the opening game, but it was one-way traffic after that as the world No 2 win 21-10 21-4.