Sourabh wins Russian Open, Kuhoo-Rohan finish runner-up

Sourabh Verma pulled off a come-from-behind win over Japan’s Koki Watanabe in the summit clash to claim his first title of the season at the Russia Open.

Sourabh Verma, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from injuries, overcame world no. 119 Watanabe 19-21, 21-12, 21-17 in the finals. (File Photo)   -  PTI

Former national champion Sourabh Verma pulled off a come-from-behind win over Japan’s Koki Watanabe in the summit clash to claim his first title of the season at the $75,000 Russia Open Tour Super 100 tournament, here, on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Indian, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from injuries, overcame world no. 119 Watanabe 19-21, 21-12, 21-17 in the finals that lasted exactly an hour at the Sport Hall Olympic.

Second-seeded Indian mixed doubles pair of Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg, however, suffered a 19-21, 17-21 loss to Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov and Min Kyung Kim of Korea in the finals to settle for a runners-up finish.

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Sourabh was left to do the catch-up act in the opening game as Watanabe slowly and steadily distanced himself after opening up an initial slender lead of 2-0. The Japanese entered the first interval with a healthy 11-5 advantage.

The Indian led a fightback to narrow the gap to 11-12, but Watanabe, again, jumped to an 18-13 lead. Sourabh reeled off five straight points to draw parity, but the Japanese managed to move ahead and pocket the opening game.

In the second game, Sourabh cut down his errors and surged to the 7-3 lead and held an 11-6 advantage at the break. After the breather, he continued to march ahead and eventually roared back into contest comfortably.

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In the decider, Watanabe zoomed to a 9-3 lead early on and held an 11-7 advantage at the interval. However, a gritty Sourabh slowly erased the deficit and clawed back at 15-15.

The Japanese tried to break away, but Sourabh ensured that there were no hiccups as he reeled off four straight points at 17-17 to shut the door on his rival.

Sourabh had won the All India senior ranking tournament in Bangalore to make the cut for the Asian Games squad. He had clinched the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix Gold and finished runner-up at the Bitburger Open in 2016.

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