A brilliant Sourabh Varma upset the top seed and World No. 22 Hsu Jen Hao to enter the final of the $55,000 Chinese Taipei Masters on Saturday. The Indian shuttler staved off a late fightback from the local star to finish in straight games, 11-4, 11-7, 11-9. The semi-final contest lasted 33 minutes.
Varma’s opponent in the final has not yet been decided. He will face the winner of the semi-final between the fifth seed Lin Yu Hsien and Daren Liew.
Fourth career win over Hao
60 ranking places currently separate the 2011 Indian national champion Varma and the Chinese Taipei shuttler. But the huge gulf in rankings did not matter to the Indian who was inspired by his 3-1 head -to-head record over Hao.
Sourabh’s last win over Hao had come more than two-and-a-half years ago in February, 2014 at the Austrian International Challenge. There too Hao was the top seed but he bowed out to Sourabh in straight games.
It was the same scene today. Sourabh had been playing very well of late that is reflected in his final appearance at the Polish International in September. He brought all that confidence into this match.
His excellent defensive skills especially stood out in the latter stages of the match which featured a number of long rallies and the Indian managed to come out on top of most of them.
He opened up a lead right from the start. From 2-0, he extended it further to 7-3 and then grabbed the opening game, 11-4.
The second game was slightly more competitive. Sourabh eked out a slim lead to edge ahead 7-5 and then built on it further through some fiery aggression. From 9-6, he clinched the second game 11-7.
The third game did not follow the same pattern. It was Hao who had a fast start this time and raced to 3-0 and then 5-2. Varma fought back to level at 5-5 after which the World No. 22 inched ahead once more to 8-6.
But Hao was powerless to stop a determined Varma from coming back into the game. Sourabh levelled the game 8-8 and it was only a matter of a few minutes before he closed out the win.