Sourabh Verma enters Hyderabad Open final

The top seeded Indian women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy defeated Hong Kong’s Fan Ka Yan and Wu Yi Ting 21-12, 21-12 to enter their first final of the season.

Sourabh Verma in action against Iskandar Zulkarnain during the semifinal fixture of the Hyderabad Open.   -  K.V.S. Giri

Sourabh Verma defeated unseeded Malaysian Iskandar Zulkarnain 23-21, 21-16 to storm into the final of the Hyderabad Open badminton championship on Saturday.

At the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here, top-seeded of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy of India also stayed on course for a title with a dominant display against Hong Kong pair of Fan Ka Yan and Wu Yi Tin to notch up a 21-12, 21-12 win in the semifinal.

READ: Sourabh Verma reaches Hyderabad Open semifinal

The much-awaited, men’s singles semifinal clash saw a close contest between the seventh-seeded Sourabh and 28-year-old Iskandar as the styles and approach of the two looked similar -- combining those telling smashes with some delectable net game.

But, as the game progressed, it was clearly a test of fitness, composure and skill. Sourabh cleared all of them in style.

The scores in the first game were tied on quite a few occasions before it entered the battle of nerves in the decisive phase. At 20-all, it was still an equal battle before Sourabh raised the bar and as chief national coach P. Gopi Chand -- who was cheering the Indian from the gallery -- said, the ability of Sourabh to control the shuttle, countering the drift factor on a tricky court was the clincher. He changed the pace of the game to suit his style and picked points with an impressive array of cross-court smashes and terrific net-dribbles.

In the second game, Sourabh was clearly far more superior though Iskandar started off well with a 3-0 lead. Quite a few times, Sourabh attacked the backhand of Iskandar to pick crucial points and once he took a 11-5 lead, there was no looking back for the local favourite and Gopi Chand Academy trainee.

In the final, Sourabh will take on Loh Kean Yew of Singapore, who downed a fighting Korean Heo Kwang Hee 16-21, 21-10, 25-23 in the other semifinal

Earlier, Ashwini and Sikki served a reminder of their hunger for that one big title when they demolished the Hong Kong pair.

The way the two Indian shuttlers swapped the front and back courts to unsettle the opponents was a treat to watch and once again Ashwini’s deceptive serve was the highlight. It was a near flawless display to clinch the issue in just 28 minutes.

Results

Men: Singles: Sourabh Verma (Ind) bt Iskandar Zulkarnain (Mas) 23-21, 21-16; Loh Kean Yew (Sgp) bt Heo Kwang Hee (Kor) 16-21, 21-10, 25-23.

Doubles: Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana (Ina) bt Lee Jhe-Heui and Yang Po-Hsuan (Tpe) 22-20, 21-18; Na Sung Seung and Wang Chan (Kor) bt Min Hyuk Kang & Kim Jae Hwan (Kor) 21-14, 21-15.

Women’s singles: Yeo Jia Min (Sgp) bt Phittayaporn Chaiwan (Thai) 21-11, 15-21, 21-18; An Se Young (Kor) bt Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (Thai) 21-14, 21-13.

Doubles: Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy (Ind) bt Fan Ka Yan and Wu Yi Ting (Hkg) 21-12, 21-12; Baek Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun (Kor) bt Akane Araki and Riko Imai (Jpn) 21-10, 21-9.

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