India were assured of a first-ever men’s singles finalist at the World Championships when Lakshya Sen followed compatriot Kidambi Srikanth into the semifinals of the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2021.
After Kidambi had outgunned Dutchman Mark Caljouw in just 26 minutes, 21-8 21-7, Sen had to dig deep to overcome China’s Zhao Jun Peng.
The long, physical battle appeared headed Zhao’s way when the Chinese had match point, but Sen took the initiative at the net and found the winner to level at 20. A backhand drive caught Zhao by surprise although Sen had slipped, and Sen kept up the pressure to take the match 21-15 15-21 22-20.
“I’m very happy, it was a pressure match,” said Sen. “Credit to him as well, he was playing at a good pace, even though he’d played long matches earlier. It was a tough and close match, so it feels good. I was on the faster side at the end of the match. More than hitting smashes, I was prepared to follow it up at the net. So that worked well in the last three points.
“I was confident in rallying it out. Both us made some mistakes. At 20-all I slipped but I managed to pull off a winner and I got a bit lucky. I haven’t played Srikanth in three years, it’s been a while, so it will be a good match. He’s playing really well, he’s beaten opponents in single digits this week. I’m also playing well, and we both play an attacking style. Let’s see who makes the final. India is assured of a finalist, so that’s a good thing. I will go all out.”
“Just very happy to be in the semifinals of the World Championships,” said Kidambi. “I just told myself I had to be in the match, I didn’t want to give a big lead or make easy mistakes, I had to be focussed.
“I’m happy to reach this stage. Coming into this tournament, I was only thinking of the first round. From there it was only about the next match.”