TOKYO: Star Indian shuttler Lakshya Sen fought gallantly before going down in three games to world number 9 and Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie in the semifinals of the Japan Open Super 750 badminton tournament here on Saturday.
The 21-year-old from Almora bounced back from an opening game reversal to keep his rival under pressure but in the end couldn't get across the fifth-seeded Christie, who rode on his solid defence and quality of shots to eke out a 21-15, 13-21 and 21-16 win.
The duo had a 1-1 head-to-head count before the match and it turned out to be another pulsating contest with Sen and Christie involved in some exquisite rallies during the 68-minute contest.
Sen is known to be faster and to negotiate his speed, Christie needed to produce high-quality shots.
However, the Indonesian wasn't consistent and made too many unforced errors initially to allow the Indians to take a 7-4 lead early on.
However, a superb net shot coupled with Sen's errors on the sidelines helped Christie claw back with three points.
Sen unleashed two booming smashes to keep himself ahead and went to the interval with a two-point advantage after Christie went long and wide.
Christie levelled the scores after the resumption, playing some superb blocks and drop shots.
He went up to 15-12 after winning a 32-shot rally.
The Indonesian started constructing his rallies by mixing his shots and also finished well to move to 19-13 after Sen went wide.
A quick exchange ended with Sen missing a shot as Christie had a five-game point and he sealed it with a backhand flick near the net.
Pegged back, Sen needed to change his strategy and he found his groove after an initial duel in the second game.
The Indian varied the pace of the rallies and produced some quality shots to make his opponent work hard.
He also mixed his services to disrupt Christie's strategy. Sen played some sensational smashes and drops while Christie sprayed into the net twice.
The result was Sen entered the interval with an 11-5 advantage after another cross-court return. At 13-7, Sen was called for a service fault for height.
However, an incredible return during a fast-paced rally followed by another cross-court jump smash kept Sen ahead.
Sen won a flat exchange and followed it with a straight smash. Another miscued net shot gave Sen seven game points and he converted it when Christie went long.
The decider was another rollercoaster ride as leads exchanged hands frequently.
Sen needed to keep a calm head as he looked to outwit his rival in the rallies but it was Christie who managed to keep things in his grip to move to 9-6.
The Indonesian grabbed a decisive four-point cushion at the final interval after producing two precise returns.
After resumption, Sen did everything in his hand but couldn't break Christie's solid defence with the Indonesian led 15-11.
Another cross-court jump smash saw Sen make it 13-17 but he smashed wide next.
Christie moved to 19-15 with an accurate smash and grabbed five match points when Sen went marginally wide.
Sen saved one with a smash on the backline before pushing one to the net.