Lakshya Sen and HS Prannoy produced superlative performances to progress to the second round of the All England Championships with hard-fought straight-game wins in the men’s singles competition here on Tuesday.
In a high intensity match, Sen moved with speed and mounted a pinpoint attack on the lines to outwit fifth seeded Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 21-18 21-19 in 48 minutes.
The 21-year-old from Almora, who had reached the final in the last edition, thus claimed his first win over the world number 5 after losing twice in three meetings.
Earlier, World No. 9 Prannoy survived some anxious moments before prevailing 21-19 22-20 against Tzu Wei Wang in his 49-minute opening round clash to take his overall tally to 5-3 over the Taiwanese.
Sen, who slipped to world number 19, will square off against either Anders Antonsen or Rasmus Gemke in the second round, while Prannoy will meet third seeded Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting next.
The match between Chou and Sen expectedly turned out to be high pace contest.
Chou took a 3-1 lead but Sen clawed back to lead 7-6 after playing some short rallies. The Indian led 11-8 at the mid-game interval.
The fast-paced rallies continued as Sen kept a firm grip to move to 15-9 but Chou won eight of the next 10 points to level at 17-17, only to give it all away with two errors.
A good judgement at the baseline took Sen to 19-17. A lucky net chord helped Chou make it 18-19 but he made another error to gift two game points to Sen, who converted it at the first opportunity.
After being locked 5-5 in the second game, Sen smashed out twice before producing a forehand flick to keep it 7-8 after a long rally.
Sen looked to step up the attack, while Chou tried to vary the pace and prolong the rallies. However, Sen managed to eke out a one-point advantage at the break.
Looking for perfection, Chou erred as Sen moved to 15-12. Sen next wriggled out of a tricky situation with an immaculate shot and followed it with a powerful smash to lead 16-13.
The Indian inched closer to win with another on-the-line return and then produced a flurry of smash to move to 19-17.
Chou made it 18-19 before gifting two match point chances to Sen with a service error. The Taiwanese saved one with a smash before Sen unleashed a booming return to seal the contest.
Earlier, Prannoy looked in good touch as he reeled off five points on the trot to zoom to a comfortable 11-4 lead. However, the Indian was guilty of missing the lines twice and also found the net, allowing Wang to cut down the deficit to three points at 11-14.
Prannoy managed to pull away to 18-12 with four straight points before Wang broke the run of points with an aggressive return after a fast-paced rally.
Wang then punished Prannoy for his weak returns and moved to 16-19 with a deceptive net return. A backhand going wide and then another one going long from Prannoy brought Wang to 19-19.
Prannoy then unleashed a cross court smash to move to game point and then sent down another straight smash to close the game.
The second game was a tightly fought battle from the word go as Wang opened up a 7-2 lead. Prannoy levelled the scores, only to miss the lines at his opponent’s forehand corner twice.
He eventually brought down a booming smash to eke out a one point lead at the break. The two engaged in a slugfest next, moving neck and neck till 16-16.
Two venomous returns gave Prannoy a 19-17 lead but he once again squandered it as Wang made it 19-19. The Taiwanese went long next to hand over a match point to the Indian, who wasted it.
However, a determined Prannoy ensured there was no last-minute hiccups as he rejoiced once Wang went to net.