All India Senior Ranking Tournament 2018: Sourabh Verma, Sai Uttejitha Rao cruise to second straight finals as Lakshya Sen, Gayatri Gopichand crash out
Sourabh Verma and Sai Uttejitha Rao took yet another step to booking their spots in India's badminton contingent for this year's Asian Games which will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The duo, who had won the Bengaluru tournament last week, reached their second consecutive All India Senior Ranking Tournament finals in their respective categories on Saturday in Hyderabad, beating youngsters Lakshya Sen and Gayatri Gopichand in the process.
Sourabh, though backed by the local crowd, took three games to see of an energetic Lakshya in the semis. He had started the match on a positive note as he enjoyed a 4-point lead at one time. 16-year-old Lakshya the fought back to level at 16-16 before Sourabh went on to pip him at 21-17.
In the second game, it was Lakshya who dictated the terms from the start. At the breather, the scores read 11-7 in favour of the Almora-born lad. This time, Sourabh clawed back to make it 13-13. Lakshya then went on to win eight of the next 10 rallies to take the game 21-15.
The decider saw Sourabh surging to a 5-0 lead early on before Lakshya could get into his groove. The scores were even level at one point (at 9-9) but the 25-year-old Hyderabadi shuttler used his experience to nudge ahead of Lakshya and take the game, and match, 21-15.
Next up for Sourabh is yet another former Junior World No. 1 and a fellow Gopichand academy graduate, Siril Verma. Siril got the better of Rahul Yadav C in straight games (21-18, 21-19) to enter the final.
Elsewhere, in the women’s singles, Uttejitha was taking on Pullela Gopichand's daughter Gayatri, who was being backed by the entire crowd, in the semifinal.
Uttejitha has been in a good run of form of late and she showed that again as she beat 15-year-old Gayatri 21-14, 21-18 in just 39 minutes. The 19-year-old managed to silence the crowd with a superb display of shots and energy.
In the final, Uttejitha will face 18-year-old Ashmita Chaliha, who fought back from a game down to beat junior national champion Aakarshi Kashyap 19-21, 21-17, 21-12 in the other half of the draw.
In the women’s doubles category, Rutaparna Panda and Arathi Sara Sunil suffered defeat at the hands of Prajakta Sawant and Sanyogita Ghorpade in an entertaining match. With the loss, the dream run of Rutaparna and Arathi, who had won the title in Bengaluru, came to an end. Sawant and Ghorpade will take on Aparna Balan and Sruthi KP in the final on Sunday.
Over in the men’s doubles, top seeds Arun George and Sanyam Shukla set up a final date with the up and coming pair of Dhruv Kapila and Krishna Prasad Garaga. Later in the day, Dhruv, 18, reached his second straight mixed doubles final alongside Meghana J. The pair will face Nandagopal K and Sanjana Santosh in the summit clash.