Qualifier Meiraba triumphs at Bulgarian Future Series, Samiya clinches women's singles title

Samiya Imad Farooqui (C) upset second seed Ozge Bayrak of Turkey 16-21, 22-20, 21-11 in the final
Samiya Imad Farooqui (C) upset second seed Ozge Bayrak of Turkey 16-21, 22-20, 21-11 in the final
Suhas Nayse

Maisnam Meiraba won his second successive Futures Series tournament as a qualifier when he clinched the men's singles title in Sofia, Bulgaria on Sunday.

The Bulgaria Future Series badminton tournament turned out to be a memorable one for Indian fans as Samiya Imad Farooqui bagged the women's singles crown as well.

The four-day tournament was organized by the Bulgarian Badminton Federation under the auspices of the Badminton World Federation.

Maisnam Meiraba won a couple of rounds in the qualification stage to make the cut for the main draw on Thursday. The 18-year-old continued his smashing run in the main draw with a series of impressive wins.

The promising teenager stunned third seed Emre Lale of Turkey 21-9, 21-15 in exactly half an hour to storm into the final on Saturday. It was perhaps one of the biggest wins of Meiraba's career so far as the Turkish star is ranked 110th in the world.

In the final on Sunday, Meiraba had to dig deep to get the better of fifth seed Daniel Nikolov of Bulgaria, ranked 150th in the world.

The home favorite posed a stiff challenge to Meiraba before the Indian registered a hard-fought 21-19, 7-21, 21-14 win.

Qualifier Maisnam Meiraba beat fifth seed Daniel Nikolov of Bulgaria 21-19, 7-21, 21-14 in the final
Qualifier Maisnam Meiraba beat fifth seed Daniel Nikolov of Bulgaria 21-19, 7-21, 21-14 in the final

On August 29, qualifier Meiraba won the Latvia Future Series title on debut to launch his senior international career in a grand fashion.

However, in the Ukraine International Series the following week, Meiraba could not extend his title run and lost to eventual champion Priyanshu Rajawat in the semis.

Manipur boy Meiraba is a trainee at Bengaluru-based Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy and is one of the brightest men's singles talents to emerge in recent times.

Samiya stuns second seed Ozge Bayrak of Turkey in the women’s singles final

Meanwhile, Samiya Imad Farooqui stunned second seed Ozge Bayrak of Turkey to win the title. Sixth seed Samiya rallied back to upset Bayrak 16-21, 22-20, 21-11 in a tense 54-minute battle.

World No. 163 Samiya got off to a poor start as the teenage Hyderabadi girl lost the first game. In the second game too, Samiya was finding it difficult to match Bayrak, who is ranked 85th in the world.

However, Samiya, a trainee at Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy, clinched an extended second game 22-20. After making it 1-1, Samiya was unstoppable in the decider as she raced to 21-11.

18-year-old Samiya Imad Farooqui displays her gold medal
18-year-old Samiya Imad Farooqui displays her gold medal

With this triumph, 18-year-old Samiya also extended her dream run in Bulgaria. In 2019, Samiya won the Under-19 girls singles title at the Bulgarian Junior International Championships.

A couple of years later at the same venue, Samiya grabbed the women’s singles crown, her first at the senior international event.

“I was very apprehensive and nervous before the final," Samiya told Sportskeeda after her win. "I was doubting myself after my loss in the final in the Polish Open. I wanted to break that feeling as quickly as possible and this win will help me perform better in future tournaments."

The talented teenager lost to third seed Yue Yann Jaslyn Hooi of Singapore at the Polish Open last month. Samiya bounced back in style to regain her confidence.

“Since I am playing too many tournaments I don’t get enough time for practice," she said. "However, as we have lost two years due to the pandemic we need to make up for lost time. I will take a break now and train after a few more tournaments. Otherwise my performance will start declining. I already feel a bit tired traveling so much. Let’s hope for the best in the next tournaments."

Barring Meiraba and Samiya, other Indians failed to shine. Qualifier Tarun Reddy lost to Julien Scheiwiller of Switzerland 19-21, 16-21 quite early.

In the qualifying, Yazgan Calisir of Turkey ousted Astitva Kale 22-24, 21-13, 21-7 in 49 minutes.

Meiraba’s road to triumph

First round: Meiraba bt Borko Petrovic (Serbia) 21-11, 21-5 (22 minutes)

Second round: Meiraba bt Markus Barth (Norway) 21-9, 21-10 (20 minutes)

Quarter-final: Meiraba bt Dmitriy Panarin (Kazakhstan) 21-17, 21-12 (26 minutes)

Semi-final: Meiraba bt 3-Emre Lale (Turkey) 21-9, 21-15 (30 minutes)

Final: Meiraba bt 5-Daniel Nikolov (Bulgaria) 21-19, 7-21, 21-14 (60 minutes)

Samiya’s road to triumph

First round: 6-Samiya bt Tanya Ivanova (Bulgaria) 21-9, 21-8 (20 minutes)

Second round: 6-Samiya bt Q-Lisa Curtin (England) 21-12, 21-13 (23 minutes)

Quarter-final: 6-Samiya bt Busra Unlu (Turkey) 21-16, 21-17 (27 minutes)

Semi-final: 6-Samiya bt Marija Sudimac (Serbia) 21-7, 21-13 (22 minutes)

Final: 6-Samiya bt 2-Ozge Bayrak (Turkey) 16-21, 22-20, 21-11 (54 minutes).

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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