Surabhi Gorebal, Pune
Lakshya Sen, a shuttler from India, gained the title of champion at the Canada Open Super 500 2023 after defeating Li Shi Feng, an All-England champion. Lakshya now owns two Badminton World Federation championship titles, as he won the Indian Open in January 2022.
Among the 32 players, Lakshya, who stands in 19th place, defeated Kunlavut Vitidsarn, who stood in 4th place in the world, post which Sen defeated the world no.11 Kento Nishimoto of Japan during the quarter-final, which helped him advance to the second super 500 final and also the first Badminton World Federation summit match. Sen won the match with scores 21-17 and 21-14.
Shifeng leveled the score at 15 all, but Sen went for it and seized the lead with a score of 6-2 and passionately held onto it in the first set. Sen returned back strongly by setting up winners every time the shuttle floated in his direction and displayed his capacity to gather points in a group. Sen immediately took the initiative by scoring three points to go on the attack even when the score was 15 all. In a contest when both players played at a demanding tempo of rallies, he had the advantage mentally over Shifeng after winning the first set.
“Lakshya did not give up at the score 20-16. It is so easy to slip into that set of mind that he’s won the first and can play the decider. But as coach I kept telling him one point at a time. He would’ve been alright had it gone to the third too, such is his physical fitness,” said coach Anup Sridhar.
He also had some excellent opportunities at the net, where he could smash. Even with the limited taps, his control at the net was great on the day. Sen utilised the overhead down-the-line smash to its fullest potential, which appears to be a new weapon in his armory. And a couple of forehands that were redirected into Shifeng’s body on that particular day were effective. “It’s a combination of being mentally and physically fit that he could remain calm even when things got close,” Anup further said.