All England 2022: Lakshya Sen reaches final as 5th Indian, ending Lee Zii Jia’s title defense

Lakshya Sen, 20, ended Lee Ziii Jia’s title defense in the 2022 All England Open men’s singles semi-finals, becoming only the fifth Indian shutter to reach the final of the prestigious Super 1000 tournament.

The Almora shuttle is the first Indian to reach the final of the All England Championships in 21 years. Only three Indian men Prakash Nath (1947), Prakash Padukone (1980 and 1981) and Pulle Gopichand (2001) have been there and done so before Lakshya. Only Padukone and Gopichand have won the prestigious title for India in the past. Saina Nehwal reached the final in 2015 but lost to Spanish star Carolina Marin.

On Saturday, it took Lakshya Sen an hour and 16 minutes in a show of class and guts to defeat defending champion Lee Zii Jia in the men’s semifinals 21-13, 12-21, 21-19.

Lakshya Sen seemed in complete control of the first game as his watertight defense was on display, frustrating the Malaysian who had a stunning run to the top step of the podium last year. However, the Indian Shutter found Lee’s pace in the 2nd game discouraging. Lee put pressure on Sen both at net and in backcourt for a 21-12 win to force the deciding set.

COURAGE AND GUTS

Lee took control of the deciding set early but Lakshya did well to keep up with the Malaysian. However, the defending champion looked more confident and took a 16-12 lead, which could have proved decisive.

However, Lakshya remained calm under pressure, proving to be his trademark as he closed the gap and converted his second match point to join an elite roster of Indian shuttles.

Lakshya Sen will be looking to become just the 3rd Indian to win the prestigious All England title as he has the support of a good Indian crowd in Birmingham on Sunday. The rise of the Indian Shuttle over the last few months has been phenomenal.

The Indian won bronze at the World Championships last year before winning his maiden Super 500 title at the India Open earlier this year. Last week Lakshya stunned world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen to finish second at the German Open.

He then reached the final at the All England past world No. 3 Anders Antonsen and world No. 5 Anthony Ginting in straight games at Birmingham before outclassing world No. 7 Lee.

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