Syed Modi Int'l: Sameer Verma stands out as Indians dazzle

The prospect of Indians claiming the singles titles looked bright after two home-grown shuttlers knocked out higher-ranked Danes in the men’s quarterfinals of the $120,000 Syed Modi International badminton championship here on Friday.

Rajeev Bhatt

Sameer Verma knocked out the second-seed and World No. 15 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

The prospect of Indians claiming the singles titles looked bright after two home-grown shuttlers knocked out higher-ranked Danes in the men’s quarterfinals of the $120,000 Syed Modi International badminton championship here on Friday.

National champion Sameer Verma continued his domination of second-seed and World No. 15 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and Harsheel Dani took out 12th-seed Emil Holst before defending champion K. Srikanth ensured an all-India semifinals in the men's singles.

In the ladies section, only P. V. Sindhu advanced to the semifinals. After Rituparna Das flattered to deceive against the fourth-seeded Indonesian, Fitriani Firtriani, Sindhu stayed on course for a much-expected title after facing a fighting Vaidehi Choudhari. Among the three Indonesian semifinalists, Gregoria Mariska made it after upstaging the third-seeded Spaniard, Beatriz Corrales 21-9, 21-11.

But the biggest upset came from the shortest semifinal where the 35th-ranked Sameer stayed ahead of Vittinghus for the better part of their 36-minute clash. Displaying fine court-coverage and attacking skills, Sameer seized control to win 21-15, 21-13.

As the scoreline suggests, Vittinghus did not run Sameer close. The Dane, who prefers to rally and tire out his unsuspecting rivals, stood no chance on this day. Having beaten Vittinghus twice in as many previous meetings — in the 2011 edition here and the 2015 India Open in New Delhi — Sameer rode on confidence and made it three in a row.

Sameer now plays Dani, who also punched over his weight to floor 12th-seed Holst 21-16, 17-21, 21-11 in 49 minutes.

The left-handed Dani, last year’s quarterfinalist, did his confidence a world of good by playing way above his world ranking of 76, against the 47th-ranked Holst.

Dani’s craft at the net and his ability to find the placement right, clearly won him the day. Holst, who trailed 10-18 in the first game and 1-10 in the decider after Dani won 10 points on the trot, cashed in on the urgency shown by the Indian in the second game.

Dani, who led 11-8 at the mid-game interval in the second game, lost his concentration as he tried in vain to finish the rally in a hurry. But in the decider, Dani regained his composure and Holst stood no chance.

The other semifinal on Saturday will see Srikanth and B. Sai Praneeth. Srikanth expectedly cruised past Malaysia’s Zulfadli Zulkiffli after Praneeth and Sourabh Verma battled for 56 minutes. Praneeth, who won the opening game but never took the lead in the second, surprisingly dominated the decider where Sourabh gave away too many soft points.

Among the ladies, India’s fifth strongest player Rituparna let Fitriani off the hook. She blew away a 12-3 lead in the decider and with it, a golden opportunity to reach the semifinals. Fitriani escaped to a 21-17, 13-21, 23-21 victory by converting her third match-point in 58 minutes.

Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy reached the semifinals of the ladies doubles as well as the mixed doubles, with B. Sumeeth Reddy and Pranav Chopra. The ladies duo looks set to play the final after facing Sanjana Santosh and Arathi Sara Sunil on Saturday.

Quarterfinal-results (prefix indicates seeding; Indians unless stated):

Men: 9-B. Sai Praneeth bt 11-Sourabh Varma 21-19, 12-21, 21-10; 3-K. Srikanth bt 7-Zulfadli Zulkiffli (Mal) 21-12, 21-17; 15-Harsheel Dani bt 12-Emil Holst (Den) 21-16, 17-21, 21-11; 8-Sameer Verma bt 2-Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (Den) 21-15, 21-13.

Women: 1-P. V. Sindhu bt Vaidehi Choudhari 21-15, 21-11; 4-Fitriani Fitriani (Ina) bt Rituparna Das 21-17, 13-21, 23-21; Gregoria Mariska (Ina) bt 3-Beatriz Corrales 21-9, 21-11; 6-Hanna Ramadini (Ina) bt Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli 21-17, 21-15.

  Dugout videos