Firmly on the learning curve, Gurusai Datt and qualifier Sourabh Verma learnt a lesson or two from rivals of contrasting status as the home challenge stood shut out at the $200,000 India Open Super Series badminton championship here.
Backed by a small but vociferous bunch of die-hard badminton-lovers from the stands, the two young Indian fell in the men’s quarterfinals, as did former Olympic champion and second seed Taufik Hidayat at the Siri Fort Sports Complex on Friday.
Gurusai, better of the two prospects, blew away a 12-5 lead in the second game before a determined Yun Hu turned the tables with a 21-10, 21-16 verdict. Later, World number one Lee Chong Wei broke away from the early parity and virtually toyed Sourabh.
For the two Indians, it was of little consolation that all singles quarterfinals ended in straight games. Gurusai had his moments in both games until the man from Hong Kong got going. Up 5-2 in the opening game, Gurusai faltered after he engaged his rival at the net and found himself outplayed. The Indian tried to vary the pace of the rallies but did not gain the desired results.
When Gurusai tried to attack in desperation, Yun Hu displayed his defensive skills, enhanced his tally and took the last six points. In the second game, Gurusai’s ploy of going for sharp strokes on the flanks worked for a while and earned him a seven-point lead. But a point after Yun Hu opted for a time-out, there was a twist in the script.
Yun Hu decided to engage the young Indian in rallies and chose not to finish them. A tiring Gurusai failed to execute the finishing strokes and paid the penalty. Once Gurusai lost confidence in his strokes, Yun Hu continued to bridge the gap. He eventually caught up at 14, allowed the Indian just two more points before racing away with the final five points.
“He played much better today. I had my moments in the second game but made many mistakes. There was some drift in the playing hall that affected me in the first game. But overall, he was the better player today,” conceded a candid Gurusai.
Sourabh matched Lee Chong Wei in the early part of both games before being blown away by the superiority the Malaysian’s craft. “I could not settle down today. Before I could read his game, the first game was over. I think, he played seriously in the early part and took it easy after building huge leads in both games,” was the honest assessment of Sourabh, who thought he could have played better.
Earlier, the temperamental Hidayat lost for the first time in 11 meetings to Korea’s Park Sung Hwan, the bronze medallist in the World championship and the Asian Games, last year. The 46-minute defeat ended the possibility of a dream semifinal between Hidayat and Denmark’s Peter Gade.
Park was at his attacking best while Hidayat’s strokes lacked the trademark power of the Indonesian. The lanky Korean broke away from 17 to snatch the first game. In the second, Hidayat looked like losing when Park won five points on the trot from 10-all. Hidayat closed the gap to 17-18 but Park did not allow the second seed another chance and won the final three points.
The results (quarterfinals, prefix denotes seeding): Men: 1-Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Sourabh Verma (Ind) 21-7, 21-8; 8-Yun Hu (Hkg) bt Gurusai Datt (Ind) 21-10, 21-16; Peter Gade (Den) bt Takuma Ueda 23-21, 21-10; 6-Park Sung Hwan (Kor) bt 2-Taufik Hidayat (Ina) 21-17, 21-17.
Women: Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (Tha) bt Juan Gu (Sin) 21-16, 23-21; 4-Pui Yin Yip (Hkg) bt Inthanon Ratchanok (Tha) 21-17, 21-15; 3-Youn Joo Bae (Kor) bt 7-Jie Yao (Ned) 21-13, 21-18; Sayaka Sato (Jpn) bt Jiayuan Chen (Sin) 18-21, 21-15, 21-15.
Keywords: India Open