Lakshya Sen wins Covid-hit India Open finals File photo of Lakshya Sen in action. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)
LAKSHYA SEN beat reigning men’s world champion Loh Kean Yew to salvage some home side glory at the India Open after a tournament plagued by a Covid outbreak.
Third seed Sen triumphed 24-22, 21-17 in less than an hour after breaking ahead of the Singaporean early in the second game, played without spectators in New Delhi.
Both men benefitted from walkovers earlier in the tournament, with Loh’s semifinals opponent Brian Yang out due to a sore throat and headache, despite testing negative for the virus.
Thailand’s Supanida Kathethong, fresh from stunning women’s top seed PV Sindhu the day before, pushed hard but ran out of steam against compatriot Busanan Ongbamrungphan, who won 22-20, 19-21, 21-13.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty’s partnership was the other bright spot for India after their men’s doubles victory over top seeded Indonesians Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.
This week’s tournament was originally meant to feature more than 200 players from 19 countries but nearly all of the sport’s top-ranked athletes were absent.
Men’s top seed and world number 10 Kidambi Srikanth had to pull out in the second round along with six others after testing Covid positive on Thursday.
India is currently experiencing a sharp rise in infections driven by the new Omicron variant, with more than 270,000 confirmed new cases on Sunday (16).