Top seed Verma rallies to enter summit clash

Top seed Verma rallies to enter summit clash

Sindhu knocks out holder Aditi

Sourabh Verma was made to work hard to justify his top billing in the semifinals but the teenager fought back from two match points down to book his place in the men’s title round of the 76th Senior National badminton championships here on Tuesday.

Sourabh rallied from a first game loss and an 18-20 deficit in the second game to beat fourth seed HS Prannoy 21-23, 22-20, 21-16 in the all-PSPB last-four match that lasted 64 minutes at the KBA courts.

“I was confident of winning the match even when I was trailing. The thoughts of a defeat never entered my mind and I was just focusing on winning the next point,” said Sourabh, who had reached the semis of the last edition at Rohtak.

Sourabh will take on his training partner at the Gopichand Academy, the second seed B Sai Praneeth, who accounted for Air India’s Anand Pawar 21-17, 21-15 in the other semifinal.

In the women’s summit clash, Airport Authority of India’s Neha Pandit will face ninth seed Sindhu PV of PSPB.

The exit of former and defending champions Anup Sridhar, Chetan Anand, Arvind Bhat, Aditi Mutatkar and Sayali Gokhale means a new winner will stand on top of the podium on Sunday in the men’s and women’s singles.

Last year’s men’s winner Arvind bowed out on Monday after losing to Pawar in the pre-quarterfinals while Chetan and Anup lost in the first and second rounds respectively.
It was also the end of the road for fourth seed Aditi, the defending champion in the women’s section, who went down to promising youngster Sindhu 10-21, 12-21 in the last-four stage. The 2008 winner Sayali was beaten by last year’s semifinalist Neha 21-17, 21-13 in the second semifinal.

In the evening’s second match, Prannoy and Sourabh had the crowd on its feet, dishing out high-quality badminton.

After a close battle at the start of the first game, Prannoy pulled away from 9-all with a couple of smashes and a long rally that culminated with a pin point drop from the fourth seed. Prannoy maintained a three-point lead till 17-14 but Sourabh fought back to edge ahead 21-20. Sourabh, however, failed to capitalise on the advantage with the 19-year-old hitting a forehand long before essaying a backhand into net. Prannoy took the first game with a drop shot.

Prannoy continued his good work in the second game and put Sourabh on the defensive. With two match points in his hand, Prannoy seemed destined to progress into the title round. But the 19-year-old committed two unforced errors before Sourabh came up with a couple of powerful smashes to level the game.
The decider too was played with a lot of intensity, but at 15-all, Prannoy ran out of steam as Sourabh pulled away to register a narrow victory.

Results (semifinals, prefix denotes seeding):
Men: 1-Sourabh Verma bt 4-HS Prannoy 21-23, 22-20, 21-16; 2-B Sai Praneeth (PSPB) bt Anand Pawar (AI) 21-17, 21-15.
Doubles: Arun Vishnu/ K Tarun (PSPB) bt D Guru Prasad/ Vineeth Manuel (Kar) 21-8, 21-7; T Rupesh Kumar/ Sanave Thomas (AI/ PSPB) bt Akshay Dewalkar/ Pranav Chopra 21-17, 21-11.  
Women: 9-PV Sindhu (PSPB) bt 4-Aditi Mutatkar (PSPB) 21-10, 21-12; 2-Neha Pandit (AAI) bt 3-Sayali Gokhale (AI) 21-17, 21-13.
Doubles: 1-Balan Aparna/ N Sikki Reddy (PSPB/ AAI) bt 3-K Maneesha/ P Jyotshna (AP) 21-19, 21-11; 2-Pradnya Gadre/ Prajakta Sawant (AI/ PSPB) 7-Daya Elsa Jacob/ Sneha Santhilal (Ker) 21-18, 21-7.    
Mixed doubles: 2-Pranav Chopra/ Prajakta Sawant (PSPB) bt 4-D Guru Prasad/ G M Nischitha (Kar) 21-9, 21-14; 1-Arun Vishnu/ Aparna Balan (PSPB) bt 3-Akshay Dewalkar/ Pradnya Gadre (AI) 19-21, 21-18, 23-21.

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