India’s Kidambi Srikanth beat third seed NG Ka Long Angus in a hard fought match to reach the semi-finals of the Hylo Open Super 500 badminton tournament in Saarbrucken, Germany, on Friday. Lakshya Sen joined him in the final four after a thrilling three-game win against a familiar foe Kunlavut Vitidsarn.
The Indian youngster starts and finishes strongly to win a seesaw match 21-18, 12-21, 21-19 that lasted nearly 80 mins.
The sixth seed Srikanth defeated the higher-ranked Hong Kong shuttler 21-11, 12-21, 21-19 in a men’s singles quarter-final that lasted one hour and four minutes.
Srikanth, ranked 15, hardly broke a sweat in the first game, taking a 1-0 lead. However, the Indian lost momentum in the second game as the world No 9 Angus levelled the proceedings.
Both players dominated a game each but the decider was fought on an even keel.
In the end, Srikanth had five match points to seal the deal but the former world No 1 squandered four before clinching the win.
With the victory Srikanth levelled the head-to-head record against Angus. Both shuttlers now have three wins each against each other.
As for the 20-year-old Sen, 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.
Sen came into the match with a 2-3 head-to-head record and battled for an hour and 18 minutes against Vitidsarn, who is ranked 24th in the world.
The Indian ran up a lead of 8-3 in a jiffy and led 11-8 at the break. The Thai shuttler tried to turn the tables but Lakshya was always ahead and comfortably pocketed the first game.
Sen also made a good start to the second game, leading 8-5 but Vitidsarn managed to grab a two-point advantage at the interval and kept his nose ahead to make a roaring comeback.
The decider was a closely fought battle with the duo fighting tooth and nail. If Lakhsya was up 9-6, Vitidsarn caught up at 11-11 after the break and stayed close till 13-14.
The Indian soon grabbed five match points but Vitidsarn made things difficult for Lakshya, reeling off four straight points. Lakshya, however, kept his cool to end on the winning side.
Srikanth will take on Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia in the semi-finals, while Sen will face Loh Kean Yew.
(With PTI inputs)