Young Sameer Verma on Friday stepped closer to creating history for Indian badminton, making it to the men's singles final of the Badminton Asia Youth U-19 Championship.
Hailing from Dhar in Madhya Pradesh, Sameer brushed aside Chinese No 1 Kai Liu 2-1 in a thrilling semifinal. He will now face the second seed from Malaysia Zulfadli Zulkiffli, who outplayed Japan's Kento Momoto 21-18, 21-19.
Battle of nerves
It was a battle of nerves and the young Indian held firm when it really mattered. After winning the first game 21-19 despite trailing 13-17, Sameer lost the second 15-21 as he committed a number of unforced errors.
In the decider, the Chinese was nowhere close to Sameer, who kept mounting pressure from the very beginning and consolidated his lead to 11-2.
"I had told myself to be on target. (Coach) Gopi Chand's advice in the decider made a big difference," an elated Sameer said after winning the contest, which lasted nearly 60 minutes.
Gopi Chand elated
Gopi too was elated with Sameer's success. "He didn't lose his focus and kept things together. That paid rich dividends in the end," said Gopi, who looked a bit disappointed with the 1-2 semifinal loss of PV Sindhu in the women's singles. "She could have won the match, but was unlucky," he said.
Sindhu too had a great start against Yu Sun of China. Placing her serves right and dribbling the shuttle well at the net, she won the first game 21-13. But, in second game, it was Yu everywhere, smashing the shuttle hard and dropping it well at net.
She caught Sindhu on the wrong foot and that allowed her to level the game 1-1. In the decider too, Sindhu was 3-0 up before Yu levelled the score. Thereafter, it was Yu who didn't give a chance to Sindhu and took the game and match 21-10.