Srikanth, Lakshya reach BWF World C'ships semis, assured of maiden medals

Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen reached the men's singles semifinals of the BWF World Badminton Championships after a dominant performance in Huelva, Spain on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Kidambi Srikanth assured himself of his maiden medal as he entered the men's singles semifinal of the BWF World Badminton Championships after a dominant performance in Huelva on Friday.   -  AP

In a historic first, India was assured of at least two medals in the men's singles competition of the ongoing BWF World Badminton Championships after the seasoned Kidambi Srikanth and young Lakshya Sen entered their maiden semifinals of the marque event here on Friday.

India is assured of at least a silver as Srikanth and Sen will face each other in the first semifinal on Saturday. It would have been a massive achievement for Indian badminton had H. S. Prannoy won his quarterfinal duel against Kean Yew Loh of Singapore but the Indian lost 14-21, 12-21 after putting up a tough fight. Loh will face third seed Anders Antonsen of Denmark in the other men's singles semifinal.

First, Srikanth, seeded 12th in the showpiece tournament, sent Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands packing with a 21-8, 21-7 win in a match that lasted just 26 minutes.

And then the unseeded Sen fought his heart out to get the better of China's Jun Peng Zhao 21-15, 15-21, 22-20 in an enthralling three-game encounter lasting one hour and seven minutes.

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"I was confident in rallying it out. Both of us made some mistakes. At 20-all I slipped but I managed to pull off a winner and I got a bit lucky," said Sen.

"I haven't played Srikanth in three years, it's been a while, so it will be a good match. He's playing really well, he's beaten opponents in single digits this week.

"I'm also playing well, and we both play an attacking style. Let's see who makes the final. India is assured of a finalist, so that's a good thing. I will go all out," he added.

The two will join the legendary Prakash Padukone (bronze in 1983) and B Sai Praneeth (bronze in 2019) as the male Indian medal winners at the showpiece.

"I just told myself I had to be in the match, I didn't want to give a big lead or make easy mistakes, I had to be focussed," said Srikanth.

"I'm happy to reach this stage. Coming into this tournament, I was only thinking of the first round. From there it was only about the next match."

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