French Open badminton: Srikanth overcomes Lakshya, Sameer Verma upsets Ginting

Ace Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth beat Commonwealth Games champion and compatriot Lakshya Sen in the opening round of the French Open 2022 BWF Super 750 tournament men’s singles event, here on Wednesday.

Former world No 1 Srikanth beat the 21-year-old 21-18, 21-18 to take his head-to-head record against Lakshya to 2-0. The two Indians famously squared off in the semifinals of the BWF World Championships 2021, which Srikanth won 21-17, 14-21, 17-21.

Srikanth, the world No 11 in the latest badminton rankings, took charge of the match from the start and raced to a comprehensive 18-12 lead. Sen, though, made a game out of it and drew himself level at 18-18.

Just as it seemed the momentum might have shifted, Kidambi’s experience shone through as he ensured himself a lead with a late flurry. In a bid to level up the match, Lakshya showed more attacking intent in the early phase of the second game but the veteran Srikanth ensured he stayed on his young compatriot’s coat-tails.

The 21-year-old shuttler eventually baulked under pressure as Srikanth, eight years senior to Lakshya, accelerated at the right moment and wrapped up the match in 46 minutes.

Srikanth will face either Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke or Irish player Nhat Nguyen in the second round.

However, the surprise result of the day came from Sameer Verma. The Indian shuttler, ranked 31st in the world, pulled off a major upset win over Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, a Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist and current world No. 6.

Sameer played brilliantly throughout the contest to eke out a tight 21-15, 21-23, 22-20 victory over an opponent who was responsible for knocking him out of the Swiss Open earlier this year.

This was the Indian’s second victory over the Indonesian ace in four meetings, with the last win coming at the 2016 All England Open. Verma’s next opponent will be world No. 10 Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand.

The in-form HS Prannoy, who currently tops the BWF World Tour Finals 2022 rankings, also progressed after beating Malaysia’s Liew Daren 21-16, 16-21, 21-16 in another three-game affair. China’s Lu Guang Zu will be the next hurdle in the Indian shuttler’s way.

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