Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy chief coach Vimal Kumar lauded Lakshya Sen for his valiant effort in the second round of the ongoing World Tour Super 300 tournament — New Zealand Open against Lin Dan on Thursday, May 3.
Lakshya though could have had better chances of winning the match if he had been more patient during the rallies against the two-time Olympic champion, according to the former national badminton champion.
In what was being touted as one of the biggest matches of his budding career, 16-year-old Sen, a former junior world number one, stretched the Super Dan before going down 21-15, 15-21, 21-12 in an hour and seven minutes at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland.
Dan was visibly slow to get off the blocks and committed quite a few unforced errors to gift the teenager shuttler the first game of the match.
News Flash: 16 yr old prodigy Lakshya Sen goes down fighting to two-time Olympic champion & five-time World champion Lin Dan 21-15, 15-21, 12-21 in Pre-QF. Proud of your effort buddy. More power to you #NewZealandOpen (BWF World Tour Super 300) pic.twitter.com/j5WUfX8HGT— India@Sports (@India_AllSports) May 3, 2018
Sen, who had recently recovered from a shoulder injury, was impressive with an aggressive approach. However, as Kumar pointed out, the world number 108 failed to engage the Chinese great in longer rallies before going for the kill.
The world number 10 took control of the match in the second and third games, tiring Sen in the process. Dan eased past the finish line by maintaining a comfortable lead throughout the deciding game.
"It was a good performance. He played well. But he was little impatient. I thought that was one of the reasons [for the defeat]. He definitely needs to work on his fitness aspect. There is no doubt about it," Kumar told International Business Times India.
The former national chief coach added: "You cannot just take quick points from Lin Dan. But he played well, I thought if he had rallied little more and then attacked, he could have a better chance. Straightaway, if you attack, you don't have much of a chance against Lin."
"Anyway, it's a good experience for him. The more matches he plays like this, he will definitely get better
"He is still growing, we are looking at building his muscle endurance and such things. He has also just come out of a shoulder injury. He has developed a hard smash and has been practicing it a lot. That, to a certain extent contributed to the shoulder injury. But now he has come out of it.
"But to play at his big level, it's basically all about patience. Also, the shuttles appeared very slow. In those conditions, he should have had more patience."
Like Lakshya Sen's temperament: Vimal Kumar
Kumar also stressed that it is important for budding shuttlers like Sen to not get carried away by small results. The 55-year-old though said he likes the Uttarakhand shuttler's temperament when it comes to dealing with attention at the nascent stage of his senior career.
Sen, unlike many other budding talents, has made a decent progression from the junior to senior level. In his first year at the senior level (2017), he won International Series events in Bulgaria and Hyderabad and finished as the runner-up at Tata Open.
"It's basically about your temperament. At this phase, a lot of them get carried away rather than working on specifics. So it's all about, you know, how you manage yourself. Not getting too carried away with small results is important. To remain grounded and then be focussed on the job," Kumar said.
"That way, I like his temperament to a certain extent. That's one of his big plus factors. The attention will be there but he has cope with that.
"He needs to improve his fitness level to play at that level. That, I think can be improved. With more matches at this level under his belt, he can also get better tactically.
"It is a very tough phase of his career. At 16, 17 he needs to establish at the top level. I think, with the right mix of tournaments, he can get better."
Sen will be heading to Sydney where he will be taking on higher-ranked Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong in the first round of Australia Open, starting May 8.