Indian badminton fans were greeted with a delightful news on Sunday morning as Sourabh Varma clinched the Chinese Taipei Masters Grand Prix title. The World No. 82 was declared the winner when the 106th ranked Daren Liew of Malaysia retired in the third game while trailing, 10-12, 10-12, 3-3 after 27 minutes. The reason cited for Liew's retirement is a shoulder injury.
This is the Indian’s fifth international title overall and his maiden triumph at the Grand Prix level.
Sourabh’s resilience in this match was outstanding. Liew had proved to be a tough opponent for him in the past with the two splitting their two meetings. Both those showdowns had gone the distance which is why it was no surprise that the two complete games that they played today turned out to be grueling.
In each of those two games, Liew was the early aggressor and Sourabh had to fight his way back. Varma did have an initial lead of 4-2 in the first game, though. But from thereon, it was all a Liew show as he surged ahead to 8-5, extending it to 10-7.
Varma clawed his way back in an impressive fashion to grab five points in a row and take the opener, 12-10.
The second game was a mirror image of the first one. The Malaysian dished out some fast and furious badminton to race ahead to 8-4. Sourabh started cutting down the lead to make it a three-point gap at 6-9.
And he only continued as Liew looked shaken. The Malaysian tried to prolong the rallies and tire out the Indian but Sourabh was determined not to let the game go. Maintaining the momentum, he captured the second game as well by an identical score of 12-10.
The initial exchanges in the third game were hard-fought and it appeared to be heading for a sizzling finish until Liew called it quits.
The 2011 national champion Sourabh had been playing well of late. He reached the final of the Polish International in September and his campaign at the Chinese Taipei Masters reflected his confidence. The 23-year-old Varma had been the last Indian standing at the Chinese Taipei Masters following the early exits of his brother Sameer, Shreyansh Jaiswal and Rahul Yadav Chittaboina.