With all the focus on Kidambi Srikanth and his chances of Olympic qualification at the Barcelona Spain Masters 2020, one man who has quietly worked his way through to the quarter-finals is Sameer Verma. The World No. 30 did not have a good start to the 2020 season, winning just one out of the four matches he played on the BWF World Tour last month.
But it has been a different version of Sameer at the Spain Masters this week. He opted out of the Premier Badminton League to preserve his fitness and it worked brilliantly in favour of the former Syed Modi International champion.
Sameer, who has been ranked as high as No. 11 in the world rankings, blew away Lucas Claerbout in the first round. If that was an impressive show of power and precision from the Indian, then in his next round he had a different challenge altogether but passed that test too with flying colours.
Germany's World No. 77 Kai Schaefer produced a spectacular comeback to take the second game after Verma had the lead. Sameer did manage to wrest the momentum from his opponent and stave off his late resistance to secure a gritty 21-14, 16-21, 21-15 win.
Next up for him is the fast-rising there-time World Junior Championships gold medalist Kunlavut Vitidsarn in their first-ever face-off. The 18-year-old Thai has not dropped a game in his two matches so far and should be the fresher of the two in this clash.
It won't be easy but Sameer should be expected to pull through, given his experience and the confidence he has been showing in Barcelona all week.
Here's all you need to know about the Spain Masters 2020 Schedule:
Tournament: Barcelona Spain Masters 2020
Category: BWF World Tour Super 300
City: Barcelona, Spain
Venue: Vall d'Hebron Olympic Sports Centre
Prize money: USD 170, 000
Tournament schedule: February 18-23, 2020
Match schedule: Sameer Verma vs Kunlavut Vitidsarn quarter-final expected to be approx around 9 pm IST on February 21, 2020
Head-to-head: First meeting
Where to watch the match in India?
There will be no live telecast of this match today. The Barcelona Spain Masters 2020 matches will be telecast live on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 2 HD from the semi-final stages.
You can, however, follow the live scores here.