World Championships bronze medallist Lakshya Sen progressed to the semifinals but fellow Indian Kidambi Srikanth suffered a straight-game loss to Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen to bow out of the German Open Super 300 tournament inMuelheim An Der Ruhr, Germany on Friday.The 20-year-old Sen, who had claimed his maiden Super 500 title at the India Open in January, continued his rich vein of form as he saw off former top 10 player HS Prannoy 21-15 21-16 in an all-Indian quarterfinals that lasted 39 minutes.The world number 14 had defeated Prannoy, currently ranked 24th, at the quarterfinals of India Open as well.
Sen will now face top seed and former world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the semifinals on Saturday.
World number 1 Axelsen proved a tough customer for Srikanth as he went down 10-21 21-23 in 35 minutes.
It was the Indian’s sixth defeat on the trot to Axelsen, whom he had beaten thrice in the past, including en route to his 2017 Denmark Open title in Odense.
Srikanth, who was playing his first event since recovering from COVID-19 that forced him out of the India Open, looked clueless against Axelsen in the initial moments of the match as the Dane galloped to a 17-4 lead.
Srikanth reeled off four points on the trot, before reaching double figures with two more points but it was not enough to stop a marauding Axelsen to pocket the opening game.
Srikanth produced a better display after the change of sides, opening up a 3-0 lead but in a jiffy it was 4-4.
The duo continued to fight it out, moving to 12-12. Srikanth then grabbed a three-point advantage only to squander it as Axelsen nosed ahead at the final moments.
India’s hopes now rests on the young shoulders of Sen, who had stunned fourth seeded Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 21-7 21-9 in a second-round match on Thursday and carried his momentum in the quarterfinals against Prannoy.
On a comeback trail, Prannoy made a positive start, opening up a 4-0 lead early on but Sen caught up with him at 10-10 and zoomed ahead after the interval to take a 1-0 lead in the tie.
The second game was a tight affair initially as the duo moved neck and neck with Sen managing a slender 11-10 lead at the break. But, just like in the first game, Sen produced a five-point burst to eventually seal the contest comfortably.