Former Indian national champion Sourabh Verma capped his brilliant week with a title at the Russian Open in Vladivostok, Russia on Sunday. The eighth seed came back from a game down to notch up an 18-21, 21-12, 21-17 win over the 119th ranked Koki Watanabe of Japan in exactly an hour.
This is his first international title since claiming the Chinese Taipei Masters in October of 2016. Verma struggled a lot for the past one year due to an ankle injury. It is only since May that he has been playing regularly again.
The Japanese stormed out of the blocks with some aggressive strokes to overpower the Indian in the first game. The Pullela Gopichand protégé did not let that bother him as he settled down in the second game and found his rhythm to stretch the match into a decider.
Watanabe again had control of the proceedings in the early stages of the third game as he built an 11-7 lead going into the mid-game interval. A resilient Verma once more dug deep and levelled the score at 15-15 before closing out the win.
Unlike Verma, the Indian mixed doubles combine of Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg went down in the final. They were the second seeds but faced a tough unseeded team consisting of the highly experienced Vladmir Ivanov and Korea’s Min Kyung Kim.
The Russian-Korean combine proved too strong for the Indians as they completed a 21-19, 21-17 win in 37 minutes.
This was the second final on the BWF circuit in as many weeks for Kapoor and Garg. Last Sunday, they finished as the runners-up to Manu Attri and K Maneesha at the Lagos International.
The youngsters have proved to be one of the most promising talents from India and are now placed at 45th, which is just a couple of spots shy of their career-high ranking of 43rd.