The 20-year-old Sen became only the fourth Indian men’s singles player after Prakasha Natha, Prakasha Padukone and Pullela Gopichanda to reach the final after outscoring Lee 21-13, 12-21, 21-19 in a grueling semi-final match that lasted one day hour and 16 minutes.
DID 😍🔥 @ lakshya_sen become 5️⃣.
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While Padukone (1980) and Gopichand (2001) were the only two Indians to win the prestigious tournament, Nath (1947) and female singles player Saina Nehwal (2015) lost in the final.
“I was definitely nervous, but I was just trying to play point by point, not opportunity,” Sen said.
“Towards the end, I was just trying not to think about the things that were happening, it was the semi-finals all over England and thoughts were coming, but I was trying to stay focused.
“I am happy to have won the match and I can play tomorrow. I will use this time to recover and do my best tomorrow.”
Sen has been in sensational form for the past six months. He secured his first bronze at the World Championships in December, before winning his first Super 500 title at the India Open in January and finishing second at the German Open last week.
🇮🇳 @lakshya_sen has joined the elite list of 🇮🇳 shuttlers! 🤩🔥 Congratulations, champions! 👏 imhimantabiswa |… https://t.co/qb9IALLfb4
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Sen, who defeated Lee the last time they met at an international tournament six years ago in India’s International Series, showed great tactical acumen, athleticism and mental strength as he recovered from a mid-game fall into the history of scenarios at the prestigious tournament.
“I think I had a good length in the first game. I played well on the nets and the lifts went very well, but I made a lot of mistakes in the second game and he took the lead at the beginning and it was hard to recover from there,” he said. number 11.
“In the third game, I tried to play safe online and not go too close and at the same time get a good length.
“In the last few points the strategy has been completely different because he is one of the best attacking players in the world and when there is a lot of pressure you have to do your best and keep attacking. I knew in my head I couldn’t lose the game.”
LAKSHYA ENTERS FINALS 🥳🥳After an incredible match between defense champion 🇲🇾 Lee Zii Jia and 🇮🇳 lakshya_sen… https://t.co/PVmgNmrfTv
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In the opening game, Sen showed great defensive skills and moved well on the field to draw an 11-7 advantage in the interval.
Lee managed to release a few of his trademarks to reduce the score to 10-12. Sen remained in long races and waited for his opponent to wither, leading 13-11.
Sen remained sober and his tactical play earned dividends as Lee fell into a pile of unforced errors to give the Indian a 17-12 lead.
Lee’s net mistake was followed by a desperate comeback that went wide. Sen collected two more points before grabbing seven game points when Lee made a mistake again and the Indian sealed it in the first chance for a 1-0 lead in the match.
After a change of side, Lee stepped up the pace and quickly took a 9-2 lead. He mixed his punches well and also showed a great reflex to surpass the fighting Sen.
The Indian broke one and allowed Lee to snatch a big 11-3 advantage at the break. The Malaysian was on fire after knocking out a string of winners to zoom in on 16-5 and eventually returning to competition after winning another exciting playoffs.
The duo continued to play at a frantic pace in decision-making, and Sen managed to take a 3-1 lead early, but Lee quickly executed a backhand cross court and tied the score.
Lee seemed to be a step ahead at his own pace and won the overtime with 67 shots, with Sen battling in the back of the field.
The 372 km / h backhand smash brought another point to the Malaysian, who led 7-5 in one stage.
Calm Sen drew parity at 8-8 with Lee extending. The return of the body brought the Indian another point, but Lee managed to catch a two-point advantage in the interval.
Playing now with drift, Sen made a slight mistake in his long-lasting lifts and Lee quickly moved to 14-10.
Fighting Sen managed to narrow down to 16-17, then came to a standstill at the crossroads and soon grabbed two match balls. Lee saved one before the Indian sealed it.
Considered a child prodigy, Sen is now just a step away from imitating his mentor Prakash Padukone.
“… all the time people were talking … it gave me the confidence that I could do it and kept me going and I’m playing the finals tomorrow,” he said.