Sourabh Varma goes down fighting to Shi Yuqi in Bitburger Open final
There was a ranking difference of 41 places between World No. 16 Shi Yuqi and Sourabh Varma but the 57th ranked Indian looked absolutely unfazed as he took on the French Open Superseries champion in the final of the Bitburger Open Grand Prix Gold in Saarbrucken, Germany on Sunday. Varma even held a game point in the second game before going down to the in-form Chinese, 19-21, 20-22 in a 45-minute contest.
Varma himself had been on a good run of late after battling back from injuries. He reached the finals of four consecutive tournaments and came into this event on the back of winning his maiden Grand Prix title at the Chinese Taipei Masters last month. Without a doubt, that gave him loads of confidence and he rode high on it to storm through the draw, ousting four seeds en route to the final.
The summit clash turned out to be extremely competitive and Varma showed a lot of courage despite the result not going in his favour eventually.
From 6-9 down in the first game, he surged to take a slender lead of 11-10 at the mid-game interval. He was in the lead till 17-16 after which the fourth-seeded Chinese used his brilliant variations to wrest back the momentum at 19-18. He soon wrapped up the opening game, 21-19.
Sourabh then broke free from 3-3 in the second game to inch ahead 9-7 but could not keep the surging Chinese at bay, who once more made a comeback to have an 11-10 advantage at the lemon break.
Unfortunately for Varma, he had to concede a point after being shown the red card and the Chinese was awarded it for a 12-10 score.
However, the Indian succeeded in shaking off that disappointment soon after and made it all level at 15-15 before going up 18-17. The dying stages of the match continued to be gritty where Varma banked on his rival’s unforced errors to surge to game point at 20-19.
Right at that moment, the Chinese polished his game and saved the game point for a 20-20 tie before closing out the win.
Sourabh’s younger brother, Sameer, who is the reigning Indian national champion, also did well at this tournament. The 12th seeded Sameer made it to the semi-finals where he bowed out to Yuqi.