Lakshya Sen, who had finished runners-up at Dutch Open last Sunday, dished out a superb performance to outclass national champion Sourabh 21-9, 21-7 in 26 minutes. The 20-year-old from Almora, who had failed to make the cut for the Sudirman Cup and Thomas Cup Final after losing his only match in the trials, is likely to clash with second seed and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark next.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina, who had retired midway through her first match at Uber Cup Final due to a groin injury, couldn’t match Japan’s world number 20 Aya Ohori and lost 21-16, 21-14 in the opening round.
Former top 10 player HS Prannoy also bowed out of the competition after losing 18-21, 19-21 to sixth-seeded Indonesian Jonatan Christie, while 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap retired after being 0-3 down against fourth seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei.
The Indian doubles players had a dismal outing as, apart from Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa, none of the others could put up a fight in their respective matches. While Satwik and Ashwini’s gallant battle ended with a 17-21, 21-14, 11-21 loss to China’s Feng Yan Zhe and Du Yue in mixed doubles, Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram lost 8-21, 7-21 to Indonesian combination of Nita Violina Marwah and Putri Syaikah in women’s doubles.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Ashwini and N Sikki Reddy also went down 17-21, 13-21 to second-seeded Korean pair of Lee Sohee and Shin Seung-chan. Lakshya had claimed five titles in 2019 before COVID-19 forced the suspension of the BWF calendar.
On Wednesday, the world number 25 Indian was up against Sourabh, an opponent against whom he had lost twice in the past but it made no difference as Lakshya dished out a dominating show to blow him away.
He led 7-2 early on and never looked in trouble as he reeled off seven straight points from 13-7 to grab seven-game points. Sourabh saved two before Lakhsya pocketed the opening game. In the second game, Lakshya stepped up the pace, jumping to a 7-0 advantage and kept marching ahead to seal the contest.