The badminton fraternity in the country is buzzing with talk about a certain Verma. And unlike the former BAI president V K Verma, who was in the news for many wrong reasons, Sourabh Verma is making them take notice with his giant killing acts on the court.
Playing in his maiden Super Series tournament, the 20-year-old showed the endurance and tenacity to not just match the nimble footed Kenechi Tago but also upset the seventh seed Japanese 21-19, 18-21, 21-11 to enter the quarterfinals of the India Open here on Thursday.
He was joined in the last eight stage by former junior national champion RMV Guru Sai Dutt, who defeated Belgium’s Yuhan Tan 21-13, 14-21, 21-13. However, it was a forgettable day for other Indians as all the doubles pairs were shown the door.
Upsets continued to be the order of the day in the women’s section with second seed Tine Baun and fifth seed Eriko Hirose also joining top seed Saina Nehwal on the sidelines.
Verma’s victim on Thursday is one of Japan’s top players who also earned a title of ‘giant-slayer’ in 2010 All-England Badminton Championship, where he beat two top Chinese shuttlers to reach the final.
“It was a very tough match. I have not played many big players till now, so everyone’s game is new to me. I drew confidence from my victory over Sony Dwi Kuncoro on Wednesday,” said the 20-year-old, who also holds the record of featuring in the second longest recorded badminton match that lasted one hours 59 minutes.
Verma lost that match last year against Qiao Bin of China but gave glimpses of his never say die attitude on that day.
On Thursday, Tago kept pushing Verma to the back court and the Indian responded with crucial smashes in the final set. “I was a little tired in the final set, so I wanted to take an early lead,” he said of his 6-0 lead in the third game. Verma now faces a bigger challenge in the quarterfinal top seed and World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.
“Kal ki kal dekhi jayegi (we will think about tomorrow’s match tomorrow),” was all Verma had to offer.