Young shuttler Lakshya Sen rues the timing of the global COVID-19 pandemic, claiming he was confident of entering the top-15 ranking had the sporting world not come to a halt due to the outbreak of the virus. Lakshya, 18, finished 2019 with five titles, with his first major trophy was the Dutch Open Super 100 event, where he edged past Japan’s Yusuke Onodera in a match that went over an hour. Also Read - Malaysian Open Postponed, Big Setback For Indian Shuttlers

He won a second consecutive title at the Saarlorlux Open, and followed it by winning the Belgian International, Scottish Open and the Bangladesh International Challenge. 2020 was supposed to be the year for India’s fastest-rising badminton star before his tremendous run was put on halt. Also Read - All England Open Badminton 2021: Lakshya Sen Enters Maiden Quarterfinals, PV Sindhu Also Joins in Mixed Day For India

“I was looking forward to play big tournaments, compete against better players and try to make it to top 15 this year. But then everything stopped suddenly, all tournaments suspended. Now I don’t know when they will resume,” Lakshya told PTI. Also Read - Saina Nehwal Retires From All England Badminton 2021 Due to Injury; Four Indians Enter 2nd Round of Men's Singles

But despite those accolades, perhaps Lakshya’s most inspiring performance came in the All England Championships where he had an impressive faceoff against Danish star Viktor Axelsen in All England Open’s second round. Even though he came out second best in that match, Lakshya was the only Indian male shuttler to make it to the second round after Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth had crashed out in the opening round.

“I had a match to play (second round) when the Ministry had announced travel restrictions. I didn’t think much about it but by the time I had played my match, BWF had cancelled the tournaments. So, we booked tickets and returned. Initially our plans was to go to Swiss from there,” he said

Looking back at his match against Axelsen, Lakshya said: “Well, he was playing well in All England but he made some mistakes in crucial points. I believe he will need to show more maturity when he takes on big and experienced players,” he said in a rather dispassionate assessment.”

With Lakshya’s apartment close to the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) in Bengaluru, he and brother Chirag Sen are doing their bit to remain fit and now sway away from the sport for long.

“We train for some time in morning and evening, we do exercises like skipping, body weight, core workout, agility training and some wall exercises. We are given weekly schedule from the academy,” Lakshya said.

“Rest of the time, we watch movies and play games on PlayStation. I do feel restless a bit because there is not much we can do but training helps. It is after a pretty long time that I have got this break, generally when you are injured you get such a break,” he signed off.