Diju & Jwala duo loses
Riding on confidence and crowd support, unseeded Sourabh Verma outthought and outplayed Suppanyu Avihingsanon for a place in the men's singles final of the $120,000 Syed Modi India Open Grand Prix Gold badminton championship here on Saturday.
Sourabh needed just 47 minutes to stop the 16th-seeded Thai 26-24, 21-13 and set up the title-clash with former World and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat.
Hidayat, seeded two, moved within a victory of ending his long title-drought after stopping Wing Ki Wong 21-16, 15-21, 21-18 in 71 minutes.
All-Thai women's final
Thailand made sure of the women's title after Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and Inthanon Ratchanok, seeded two and three, entered the final.
In mixed doubles, third-seeded V. Diju and G. Jwala surrendered rather tamely to unseeded Indonesian duo of Muhammad Rijai and Debby Susanto.
The mismatch lasted just 28 minutes, the score-line being 21-15, 21-12.
For the noisy crowd, the disappointment of the watching the Indian pair's defeat was far less than the joy of cheering a gritty Sourabh to victory. The spectators, some of them waving the National flag, got behind Sourabh from the first point and supported him through the highs and lows of the contest.
Sourabh, who makes up for a lack of stamina by mixing his strokes well and thinking smartly on court, followed coach Gopi Chand's advice to the hilt.
Knowing Suppanyu's ability to land powerful forehand smashes, Sourabh did not let the Thai attack. But the few times Suppanyu got into aggressive mode, Sourabh was clearly in trouble.
In the first game, in which the scores were tied 16 times, Sourabh converted his fifth game point after saving one at 20-21.
It was Sourabh's tremendous persistence and belief in his game-plan that frustrated his rival.
In the second, Sourabh made it much easily after breaking away from five-all. Suppanyu's growing frustration saw him attack without getting into position. He risked going for the lines and ended up hitting out. As a result, Sourabh built a big lead and eased to victory.
Hidayat, candid enough to admit that unlike a few years ago, these days he struggles to “finish matches,” took time to come out stronger. The ease, with which Hidayat sends the shuttle across and conserves his energy, remains the envy of the younger players.
The results (semifinals, prefix denotes seeding): Men's singles: Sourabh Verma (Ind) bt 16-Suppanyu Avihingsanon (Tha) 26-24, 21-13; 2-Taufik Hidayat (Ina) bt 5-Wing Ki Wong (Hkg) 21-16, 15-21, 21-18.
Doubles: 1-Naoki Kawamae & Shoji Sato (Jpn) bt 8-Yao Han Ow & Wee Kiong Tan (Mas) 21-14, 21-16; Andrei Adistia & Christopher Rusdianto (Ina) bt 2-Ingo Kindervater & Johannes Schoettler (Ger) 21-15, 21-14.
Women's singles: 3-Inthanon Ratchanok (Tha) bt Tsz ka Chan (Hkg) 21-16, 21-15; 2-Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (Tha) bt 4-Eriko Hirose 22-20, 21-15.
Doubles: 1-Miyuki Maeda & Satako Suetsuna (Jap) bt Vivian Kah Mun Hoo & Khe Wei Woon (Mas) 18-21, 21-16, 21-19; Shinta Mulia Sari & Lei Yao (Sin) bt Eei Hui Chin & Pei Tty Wong (Mas) 21-18, 21-15.
Mixed doubles: 1-Sudket Prapakamol & Saralee Thoungthongkam (Tha) bt Fran Kurniawan & Shendy Puspa Irawati (Ina) 21-8, 13-21, 21-16; Muhammad Rijai & Debby Susanto (Ina) bt 3-V. Diju & G. Jwala 21-15, 21-12.