Just when the pre-mature exit of World bronze medallists G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa had left the vociferous crowd hugely disappointed, Saurabh Verma came along and provided the healing touch the galleries needed.
Saurabh reinforced his growing reputation as the one to watch out for, by dumping fourth seed Tommy Sugiarto in straight games for a place in the men's singles quarterfinals of the Syed Modi India Open Grand Prix Gold badminton championship here on Thursday.
After younger brother Sameer defeated fellow qualifier Rohit Yadav for a place in the last-eight, Saurabh doubled India's joy following a 21-17, 21-17 defeat of the World No. 17 in 38 minutes.
The 23-year-old, the eldest son of former World champion Icuk Sugiarto, is back in the Indonesian National squad after winning three titles, including the Taipei Open and a Grand Prix Gold event.
On a day when the top seeded Indonesian Simon Santoso pulled out of the competition due to upper respiratory tract infection, compatriot and second seed Taufik Hidayat inched closer to the title by stopping R.M.V. Gurusaidutt.
Hero of the day
But the hero of the day was Saurabh. Ranked 72nd in the world, a trainee of Gopi Chand Academy, made light of a 2-7 deficit and eventually broke away at 17-all to take the first game. In the second, Sugiarto did manage to match an inspired Saurabh until 14-all, before the Indian youngster tightened his grip.
Saurabh's speed and alacrity on court stood out. Though some unforced errors from Sugiarto on key points did help Saurabh's cause, the result was never in doubt, once he nosed ahead to hasten the end.
For a place in the semifinals, the Verma brothers face rivals from Hong Kong. Saurabh plays seventh seed Yun Hu and Sameer meets Wing Ki Wong, the conqueror of B. Sai Praneeth and K. Srikanth on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Jwala-Ashwini duo paid the price for an unusually high number of unforced errors against Malaysia's scratch combination of Liu Ying Goh and Yin Loo Lim to lose in three games. Jwala put her hand up and took responsibility for the defeat.
“Ashwini was brilliant but I committed far too many errors today. I was really not ‘there' in the match today. I had an off-day,” was the candid confession from Jwala, who paused to apologise to her partner for the outcome.
Ashwini said, “We lost to a good combination. But we just could not get going after winning the first game.”
Though Jwala and V. Diju expectedly moved into the mixed doubles quarterfinals, the home challenge in the women's singles ended with the straight game defeat of P.V. Sindhu and Neha Pandit.
Important results: Pre-quarterfinals: Men: Singles: Taufik Hidayat (Ina) bt R.M.V. Gurusaidutt 21-13, 21-19; Sameer Varma bt Rohit Yadav 21-14, 21-11; Sourabh Verma bt Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) 21-17, 21-17.
Women: Singles: Tsz Ka Chan (Hkg) bt Neha Pandit 21-15, 21-14; Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) bt P.V. Sindhu 24-22, 21-7.
Men: Doubles: Ricky Karanda Suwardi & Muhammad Ulinnuha (Ina) bt Rupesh Kumar & Sanave Thomas 21-12, 19-21, 21-17; Hee Chun Mak & Soon Hock Ong (Mas) bt Tarun Kona & Arun Vishnu 10-21, 21-11, 21-15.
Women: Doubles: Liu Ying Goh & Yin Loo Lim (Mas) bt G. Jwala & Ashwini Ponnappa 18-21, 21-14, 21-16.
Mixed doubles: V. Diju & G. Jwala bt Manu Attri & Siki Reddy 21-14, 21-11.