Sourabh emerges champion

Last Updated 29 July 2018, 11:47 IST

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 USD 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 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 summit clash to settle for silver.

Sourabh was left to do the catch up act in the opening game as Watanabe slowly and steadily went ahead 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 a 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 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.

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

"I'm progressing but still have to improve certain aspects of my game," Sourabh said.

"Next for me is the Asian Games and I'm already working on my strength, which will help me to continue playing in the circuit and do well."

"Today's match was quite tough and I am happy that I could win. This is my first win of the season and it will boost my confidence," said Sourabh, who had won the All India senior- ranking tournament in Bengaluru last month to make the cut for the Asian Games squad.

(Published 29 July 2018, 11:39 IST)

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