PBL 2018: "League good match practice for hectic year ahead," says Sameer Verma
With a shoulder injury marring most of his 2017 season, young Sameer Verma is looking to get the right match practice at the Premier Badminton League Season 3, heading into a hectic next year. The World No. 30 believes if he could come up with a good show in all his PBL 3 matches, he will get the confidence to play in a Superseries event.
The Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold winner, Sameer, could play only 11 tournaments in the season, reaching the quarter-finals of the India Open, US Open GP Gold and Korea Open Superseries post his title in Lucknow in January. The Japan Open was his last international appearance in September. In comparison, he played 16 events in 2016 with a runner-up finish at the Hong Kong Open.
“For me, PBL is like a good match practice for the 2018 season. The advantage playing here is that all the top players like Viktor Axelsen, K. Srikanth, Tian Houwei are playing here and if I can get some good wins, it will be like playing a Super Series event which has five matches. I am looking to win my next matches,” said Mumbai Rockets’ Sameer, dejected after losing a close match to World no. 24 Brice Leverdez of France in their PBL 3 encounter against Chennai Smashers in New Delhi.
“I should have won the first game against Brice. I was leading 14-12, but a few mistakes made all the difference,” he said assessing his loss.
Sameer, who admitted to having fully recovered from the injury, had a brilliant PBL 3 opening against Delhi Dashers when he stunned Wong Wing Ki Vincent in the men's singles match to lead Mumbai Rockets to a 4-1 win in Guwahati.
After top players like Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu and Carolina Marin have stressed the importance of ‘fitness’ to sustain the growing level of competition, cramped scheduling of tournaments and long rallies, Sameer said he was looking to be fitter than ever, which will also be his focus in 2018.
“With the kind of competition we are having in the international circuit now, It doesn’t matter if your performance is not at top level, what matters is to stay fit for a long time and performance will follow. For me, I was eager to get a good performance after my injury so I was kind of pushing myself and tiring my body which took a toll,” said the younger sibling of the Verma brothers who train at the famed Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.
“Coming out of injury, players tend to have a wary factor and don’t go all-out. Even I was playing with a bit of caution today. It will take some time to get into the groove,” the 23-year-old added.