What Lakshya can do to be simply Sensational

Lakshya Sen, the badminton sensation from Almora, Uttarakhand, reached two goals that he set for himself for 2021 by stamping his class to emerge the best Indian player for the year and also crash-landed in Top 20 of the world rankings. So, what’s in store for Lakshya in 2022 and what does he need to focus on? According to Vimal, Lakshya has to bring in more variations in his smashes. They are always hit on a steep angle which experienced players have no problems negotiating. 

“I would like higher trajectory on the smash sometimes and also see him bring in fast steep drops. He also has to learn how to control rallies when shuttles are on the slower side,” said Vimal. Viktor Axelsen, the reigning Olympic champion, reckoned Lakshya is doing well for himself and it is only a matter of time he makes it to the Top 10. Each tournament is a learning process and the young Indian player is well on track, felt Axelsen.

Maximum exposure

The Prakash Padukone Academy, where Lakshya trains, will enter him in as many tournaments. In Vimal’s words—“as many tournaments as possible.” Apart from the Asian and Commonwealth Games, the All England, Tour finals, India Open and Syed Modi Memorial, China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysian, Danish and Dutch Open will be the main focus for Team Lakshya.

Of course, the BWF World Championships and Thomas Cup (if selected) will be critical. But as Prakash Padukone said recently in Mumbai, “It is important to win the big titles as you are remembered for that. So, the All England and the World Championships are the ones people relate to. Of course, the biggest would be the Olympic gold which can now be only won in 2024.” Prakash is spot on. For, he and Gopichand are remembered chiefly for their All England triumphs in 1980 and 2001 respectively.

Prakash agreed that Lakshya has improved a lot in these two months of intense badminton activity, but felt there is scope for improvement. The shot selection can be better and the flick and baseline push with the same action will do Lakshya a world of good. If we keep Axelsen and Kento Momota out of the equation in the 2022 season since they are getting on in age, then these four are likely to dominate the scene—Lakshya, Lee Zii Jia, the All England champion from Malaysia, Kunlavut Vitidsarn, the three-time World junior champ from Thailand and the current sensation from Singapore, Loh Kean Yew. They are all young, fast and very ambitious. Lakshya has already defeated all of them, so he has a very good chance of reaching the top ranking. 

‘It has been hectic’

“It has been hectic, but I have enjoyed playing against the top guns and this experience will help me in 2022. I may have lost to the likes of Axelsen and Momota, but they are the very best currently. I have to work on my fitness, improve my strength so I can smash harder and move a bit faster on court,” Lakshya told me.

Getting into the Top 5 of the world ranking, prioritising winning big titles, working on his endurance and leg strength should be his main focus for 2022. Lakshay’s ability to think out of the box, innovate to suit the situation and his ability to fight at all times should make him a terror on the badminton court in 2022.

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