Sourabh Verma wins Hyderabad Open, Ashwini-Sikki finish runners-up

The 26-year-old from Madhya Pradesh showed great composure as he outwitted World No. 44 Kean Yew 21-13, 14-21, 21-16 in a 52-minute final clash.

Reigning National champion Sourabh Verma capped an impressive week at the Hyderabad Open with a thrilling win over Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew in the summit clash.   -  K.V.S. Giri

India’s long wait for a men’s singles title in a major international event in 2019 has finally ended with Sourabh Verma clinching the honours in the Hyderabad Open badminton championship even as the premier women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy faltered in the final at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Sourabh, defeated Loh Kean Yew of Singapore 21-13, 14-21, 21-16 in the 52-minute, singles final. He looked in ominous touch in the first game when he made light of the opponent in just 15 minutes with an array of impressive big smashes, cross-court drops and splendid net game.

But, the Indian shuttler was in for a surprise in the second game after leading 4-0 at one stage when Loh came up with some stunning cross-court drops and a vastly improved net game.

The Singaporean was brilliant with his cross-court smashes too which left Sourabh gasping for breath. A couple of big smashes from Sourabh later on levelled the scores at 10-all.

However, Loh put up a quality display reaching out to every smash that was thrown at him by the Indian shuttler and importantly the court-coverage was excellent and he was successful in taking the issue into the decider.

Once again, Sourabh passed the test of endurance, skill and handling pressure in tense situations with a touch of class by controlling the pace of the game in the crucial phase. He didn’t play to the opponent’s strength - which was rock solid defence - and engaged him in long rallies and net dribbles.

“Any win at this level is great and I am glad that I have played really well in this tournament and hope to keep going,” the champion said later on.

Earlier in the women’s singles final, top-seeded Yeo Jia Min of Singapore outslugged second-seeded An Se Young with a 12-21, 21-17, 21-19 win.

In the eagerly awaited women’s doubles match, quite a few unforced errors from Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy at critical stages of the match proved costly against the Korean combine of Baek Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun with the latter clinching a 25-17, 25-17 win in the final.

The results: All finals: Men: Singles: Sourabh Verma (Ind) bt Loh Kean Yew (Sgp) 21-13, 14-21, 21-16.

Doubles: Muhammad Shohibil Fikri & Bagas Maulana (Ina) bt Na Sung Seung & Wang Chan (Kor) 21-18, 21-18.

Women’s singles: Yeo Jia Min (Sgp) bt An Se Young (Kor) 12-21, 21-17, 21-19.

Doubles: Baek Ha Na & Jung Kyung Eun (Kor) bt Ashwini Ponnappa & N. Sikki Reddy (Ind) 21-17, 21-17.

Mixed doubles: Hoo Pang Ron & Cheah Yee See (Mas) bt Adnan Maulana & Mychelle Crhystine Bandaso (Ina) 16-21, 21-16, 21-11.

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