Indian challenge ended at Hylo Open Super 500 badminton tournament after both Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen suffered straight-game defeats in their respective men's singles semifinals in Saarbrucken, Germany on Saturday. (More Badminton News)
After Lakshya, ranked 21 in the world, went down fighting 18-21, 12-21 to 39th ranked Singapore's Loh Kean Yew in 45 minutes, Srikanth suffered a narrow 19-21, 20-22 loss to Malaysian second seed Lee Zii Jia in another semifinal.
Former champion Lakshya matched his opponent in the fast-paced rallies but lacked finishing as he suffered his second loss to Loh in three meetings this year.
Lakshya had avenged his Dutch Open final loss to Loh with a straight-game win at the French Open last month.
In the semifinal clash, Loh showed better discipline and precision to return the favour to the Indian.
Srikanth too never lacked in intent but Lee was always a step ahead in the opening game. Lee had opened up a 4-0 lead in the second but the Indian soon moved to 15-10 to raise hopes of a comeback.
But an alert Lee clawed back soon into the lead and even had two match points. Srikanth drew parity but Lee averted any hiccups and sealed the contest with a cross-court return.
Earlier, Lakshya and Loh played some terrific rallies with the Indian grabbing six straight points to lead 8-4 at one stage.
A few unforced errors by Lakshya, which included a long shot and a net error, helped Loh to break the run of points and he soon made it 10-9 after injecting pace in the rallies.
However, Lakshya ensured he had a slender one-point advantage at the interval.
Following the breather, Loh managed to turn the tables at 13-12. Lakshya wrested back the lead at 17-15 with four quick points.
However, Loh made his way to 20-18 and fist-pumped after sending one away from his opponent's reach.
Grueling rallies featured in the second game also but the Singaporean continued the momentum, opening up a 2-0 lead and even though Lakshya breathed down his neck, Loh managed to enter the interval with a three-point cushion.
Loh continued to hold fort after the interval and slowly distanced himself from the Indian, displaying immaculate defence.
In the end, a return going to net from Lakshya and then a smash helped Loh to reach match points and he sealed it with another stiff cross-court smash.
On Friday, Lakshya had notched up a 21-18 12-21 21-19 win over three-time junior world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand to reach the semifinal.
The 20-year-old, who had claimed five titles in 2019, had a decent outing at the Denmark Open and French Open with the second round and quarterfinal finishes respectively.
The shuttler from Almora was forced to pull out of the event last year after his father and coach DK Sen had tested positive for COVID-19.