Bitburger Open: Sourabh Verma reaches final, brother Sameer exits in semis
The Verma family of Dhar, Madhya Pradesh had mixed fortunes on Saturday as their elder son Sourabh made it to the final of the Bitburger Open in Saarbrucken, Germany but younger son Sameer crashed out in the semi-finals.
The 23-year-old Sourabh upset the 15th seed Anders Antonsen 21-15, 21-18 in the day’s first semi-final. In contrast, the 12th seeded Sameer found the going tough against the fourth-seeded Shi Yuqi, who beat the Indian, 21-18, 21-15.
Fourth consecutive final for Sourabh
Former national champion Sourabh had been in superb form of late and had reached the finals of his last three tournaments, winning the most recent one at the Chinese Taipei Masters last month. It was his maiden title at the Grand Prix level and has undoubtedly done a world of good to his confidence level.
Verma had carried that momentum in to this week as well and upset three seeds en route to today’s semi-final.
His opponent in the semi-finals – Anders Antonsen – is the reigning junior European champion and is touted to be a future star of the sport. The 19-year-old, who is endowed with an aggressive game, used his power and pace to get off to a good start and led Verma 4-2 before the Indian began clawing his way back.
He leveled it at 6-6 and the game continued to be hard-fought till 10-10. After the mid-game interval, Verma made a big push and inched ahead for a 14-12 lead which he extended to 19-15 before bagging the game, 21-15.
Sourabh kept up his aggressive play even in the second game and put the youngster under pressure right from the beginning as he surged ahead 10-7. However, the Dane did manage to forge a mini-comeback for 16-16 and even led 18-16 only to see his efforts going in vain. A brilliant Sourabh took the final five points to march to the final.
Sameer fails to emulate his brother
It turned out to be a tough affair for the reigning Indian national champion Sameer in the second semi-final. The fourth-seeded Chinese raced to a 5-1 lead and made it 8-4 in no time.
After the lemon break, Yuqi maintained his run to build a huge 18-10 advantage over the Indian. Sameer did try his best to reduce the deficit after that and closed into 16-19. But the World No. 16 once more snatched the momentum to take the opener, 21-18.
The 22-year-old Indian managed to rebound magnificently in the second game and led his higher-ranked rival 11-7 at the interval. But the scene changed a few minutes later when the Chinese came storming back to level at 15-15.
Verma faded away as Yuqi grew in confidence and failed to do anything as the Chinese collected six points on the trot to complete the win in 37 minutes.