Lakshya Sen: Prakash Padukone sir says this is a stepping stone


Lakshya Sen is a young man of few words. Just like on a badminton court, where unnecessary rallying is not his style, he’s short and straightforward off it. When asked to rate his India Open title, claimed after beating reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew (24-22, 21-17) in New Delhi on Sunday along with the World Championship bronze he won in Spain recently, he tells mid-day: “The Worlds medal was a big medal, but this is my first BWF Super 500 title, so this is very special, it’s right up there.” 

‘Extra special’

The fact that it was won at home also “makes it extra special,” but the absence of fans hurt, especially in an indoor sport like badminton where vociferous crowds can egg you on in the toughest of times. “It’s always nice to have fans in the stadium, but due to the COVID-19 situation that was not possible. I still enjoyed some good support from the few officials and staff who were around, but spectators would have been great,” says Sen, 20, a product of badminton great Prakash Padukone, who picked him up at the age of eight and has ensured a professional support system for the shuttler throughout. Padukone is obviously pretty pleased. Sen says, “I spoke to Prakash sir, we discussed the final match. We will further discuss the finer points when we meet in person later. He is happy with my performance and believes this is the perfect stepping stone to go on and do well in a busy year.”

Prakash Padukone

Sen has already marked out his big tournaments for the year and there are quite a few. “The next big one for me is the German Open [March 8-13] followed by the All England Open Championships [March 16-20]. Then, the Thomas Cup [May 8-15 in Bangkok] is a big event and finally we have the Commonwealth Games [July 28 to August 8, Birmingham] and the Asian Games [September 10-25, Hangzhou],” he says.

Video analysis helped

Coming back to the India Open final, Sen explains how he conquered the sheer pace of world champ Loh thanks to an in-depth video analysis of their previous meeting (Loh beat Sen 21-12, 21-16 in the Dutch Open final last October). “I watched videos [of the Dutch Open final] and discussed with my coaches. I learnt from that, drew from that experience. I realised what I did not do well, so as per the conditions here, I changed my approach and strategy. But despite all that analysis, at the end of the day when you are on court, you have to execute and improvise. 

I started a bit nervously, but kept telling myself not to rush into the points and not to make silly mistakes. My plan was to maintain my pace and get him into making unforced errors and keep going for my winners whenever I can. I’m glad it worked,” says Sen. 

The COVID-19 situation put a spoke in the wheels of most sportspersons and competitions globally last year, but Sen refused to take a break. “Last year was very tough for all players, but I kept doing my basic training and ensured my fitness levels were high and I believe that has helped me do well,” he concludes.



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