Lakshya Sen Advances at All England Open, Faces Antonsen Test

Lakshya Sen Advances at All England Open, Faces Antonsen Test

U Vimal Kumar’s animated coaching during the All England Open badminton on Wednesday proved crucial as his ward Lakshya Sen overcame the challenge of Magnus Johannesen in the first round. Despite Sen’s lead, Johannesen’s powerful shots kept Kumar on edge.

Johannesen, a highly-rated Danish player, is considered a rising star in men’s badminton. His left-handedness poses a unique challenge to right-handed opponents. However, Sen’s superior net play and patience in rallies earned him a 21-14, 21-14 victory.

While Sen’s strong start is promising, his path ahead becomes more challenging. On Thursday, he faces Johannesen’s compatriot and world No. 3 Anders Antonsen. Sen won their first encounter, but Antonsen has dominated their subsequent meetings.

This is the third consecutive year that Sen and Antonsen will face off in the All England Open, with both previous encounters occurring in Round 2. Sen eliminated Antonsen in 2021 en route to the final, while Antonsen prevailed in 2022.

Antonsen has been in impressive form this year, winning the Malaysia Open and Indonesia Masters. Priyanshu Rajawat, meanwhile, suffered a disappointing loss to Indonesian Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo, extending his losing streak in the first two rounds of the BWF World Tour to five.

In women’s doubles, Tanisha Crasto and Ashwini Ponnappa defeated Yeung Nga Ting and Yeung Pui Lam for the second time in as many months. They will now face Chinese fifth seeds Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu in the second round. Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, however, lost to Indonesian pair Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti.

Axelsen Annihilates Srikanth, Extends Dominance in Men's Badminton

Axelsen Annihilates Srikanth, Extends Dominance in Men’s Badminton

Viktor Axelsen and Kidambi Srikanth, once touted as the future of men’s badminton, have taken vastly different paths since 2017. Axelsen has soared to unprecedented heights, becoming a two-time world champion, Olympic champion, and world No. 1. Srikanth, on the other hand, has struggled to maintain his early promise, last winning a tournament in 2017.

Their contrasting fortunes were evident in their recent encounter at the All England Open Badminton Championships. Axelsen annihilated Srikanth 21-9, 21-9, extending his winning streak against the Indian to eight matches. Srikanth’s confidence has been shattered, while Axelsen’s dominance continues to grow.

Axelsen’s success stems from his exceptional attack and defense. His towering height and powerful jump smash make him a formidable opponent. However, it is his ability to adapt and counter his opponents’ strategies that sets him apart.

Srikanth, once known for his aggressive style, has lost his attacking edge. His opponents have deciphered his game and found ways to neutralize his venom. As a result, Srikanth has been making more errors and struggling to win matches.

The All England Open also saw the exit of defending champion Li Shi Feng and Olympic-bound HS Prannoy. Prannoy, who had a strong 2023, has struggled this season, raising concerns about his form ahead of the Olympics.

PV Sindhu, on a comeback trail, advanced to the next round after her opponent retired. However, she faces a daunting task in Round 2 against world No. 1 An Se Young, an opponent she has never beaten.

Indian Badminton Stars Shine in Paris, Eye Olympic Glory

Indian Badminton Stars Shine in Paris, Eye Olympic Glory

Paris has been a magical venue for Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, the world’s top-ranked badminton pair. They have reached the final of a BWF Super 750 or higher event for the first time in the French capital, and have won two out of three French Open finals. Their latest triumph came at the venue that will host badminton in the upcoming Olympics, making it even more special.

“It feels really sweet,” said Shetty. “Paris has always been special for us. We have always played good badminton here. It has been a second home for us.”

While they are thrilled with their victory, Rankireddy and Shetty remain focused on the Olympics, which are still six months away. They have a busy schedule ahead, including the All England Open starting on Tuesday.

In Birmingham, they will face a tough opening round against Indonesian legends Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan. With the Olympic qualification cutoff on April 28, all top pairs will be eager to perform well at this tournament, which offers the most points.

Indian fans will be eagerly following the action, as the All England Open has a rich history and legacy. Rankireddy and Shetty have a chance to add to India’s sparse success at the tournament, which includes singles triumphs by Prakash Padukone (1980) and Pullela Gopichand (2001).

PV Sindhu is also on a comeback trail, and the All England Open provides an excellent opportunity for her to raise her game. Last season was challenging for her, but she has shown signs of improvement since moving to the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy.

At the Badminton Asia Team Championships, she defeated a top 10 player, China’s Han Yue, and guided India to an unprecedented gold. Last week, she beat Canada’s Michelle Li and American Beiwen Zhang to reach her first quarter-final since October.

In the last eight, she played well against reigning Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei, taking a game off her. Her performance showed that her mentor, Prakash Padukone, and new coach, Agus Dwi Santoso, are helping her regain her form.

HS Prannoy is all but assured of Olympic qualification, but Lakshya Sen is not. He is joint 15th in the Race to Paris rankings, but above Kidambi Srikanth and Priyanshu Rajawat. The one finishing in the top 16 by April 28 will get a shot at an Olympic medal.

The real fight for qualification is between Tanisha Crasto-Ashwini Ponnappa and Gayatri Gopichand-Treesa Jolly. Tanisha and Ashwini have broken through with superb performances after joining hands early last year, reaching five finals and winning three in 2023. They are currently ranked 11th, while Treesa and Gayatri are joint 14th. The one ranked higher will earn the Olympic spot.

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