Maybe everyone was expecting a little too much from Sourabh Verma. World No 1 and top seed Lee Chong Wei gave him a reality check on Friday, ending the euphoria surrounding Verma’s dream run.
The Indian qualifier lost 7-21, 8-21 and became the second casualty for the hosts along with teammate RMV Gurusai Dutt, who also crashed out in the quarterfinals at Siri Fort sports complex. Though the hosts’ challenge has ended in the $200,000 event, Verma and Dutt have taken a lot of positives from this experience, which is their best individual performance in Super Series events.
Indonesian firebrand and second seed Taufik Hidayat was the other upset of the day as he fell prey to Asian games silver medallist Park Sung Hwan.
Lee Chong Wei looked at ease while playing against the tournament’s ‘discovery’. Verma looked pumped up for the big match and his strokes in the first game indicated he was putting in a lot of effort. But Lee was not about to become another one this giant-killer’s scalps.
“There were so many variations in his strokes, I didn’t know when to expect a drop shot and when to expect a smash,” Verma said after the match. “I was not able to read the shuttle well and when I was trying to lift the shuttle, it was landing outside the line.”
National coach Pullela Gopi Chand had termed Verma as a player “with a lot of self-belief and grit” and the 20-year-old feels this tournament may change things for him.
Gurusai Dutt, like Verma, had trouble reading the shuttle on many occassions and conceded that there were times when he was blindly hitting smashes while playing against eighth seed Hu Yun of Hong Kong. Yun pocketed the match 21-10, 21-16. He explained his wayward smashes were because of him being unable to spot the shuttle properly against the overhead lights.
All eyes will now be on Denmark’s Peter Gade who, at 34, has given all the ‘younger’ players a run for their money. He will be up against Korea’s Park in the semifinals.