Sourabh Verma, Guru Sai Dutt salvage the day with big upsets
New Delhi: India suffered a massive heartbreak on the second day of the India Open Superseries, with home favourite Saina Nehwal crashing out, but two local hopefuls salvaged the day with unlikely wins. While world number four and top seed Saina Nehwal of India crashed out 21-17 21-19 to Japan’s Ai Goto in the first round, her compatriots Sourabh Verma and Guru Sai Dutt pulled off impressive wins. Sourabh dumped former Olympic bronze medalist Sony Dwi Kuncoro, while Guru scalped world No.5 Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand.
Saina, the title favourite, looked completely off-colour against her determined opponent and slumped to her knees after Goto slammed in the winning shot at the Siri Fort Complex.
The Indian superstar, 21, had beaten the Japanese in three previous encounters and was tipped to win before a home crowd at the venue where she clinched the Commonwealth Games gold last year.
Goto next takes on compatriot and fifth seed Eriko Hirose who beat Adrianti Firdasari of Indonesia 18-21, 21-8, 21-16.
The 21-year-old ace, who was seeded top in the tournament, has also been troubled by an ankle injury for the past few months.
Super win for Sourabh
Earlier in the day, young shuttler Sourabh Verma created another upset when he sent Athens Olympics bronze medallist Sony Dwi Kuncoro packing.
The 20-year-old qualifier beat the former world number three Indonesian 21-18, 21-19 in a hard-fought 41-minute men’s singles match.
Currently ranked 37th, Sony had also won the silver and bronze in the World Championships, besides winning the Indonesian, Japan Super Series and China Masters.
“It is my biggest win. I wasn’t intimidated by his stature. I just wanted to give my best and see how things pan out and I am glad I could pull off the victory,” said Sourabh, who is playing the first Super Series of his career.
He will take on the winner of match between seventh seed Kenichi Tago of Japan and French Brice Leverdez in the second round on Thursday.
The Madhya Pradesh lad has been training in the Gopichand Academy for the last two years and is among the talented group of young shuttlers.
“I have been training At SAG (Special Area Games) but the training facilities were not that great. After I moved into the Gopichand academy for the Commonwealth Games camp, I decided to stay there ever since,” said Sourabh, who reached the semifinals of the National Championship in Rohtak.
Sourabh won the All India Senior Ranking tournament held at Atul, Gujarat in February. This was his first major ranking title on the senior circuit. He also reached the quarterfinals of the Scottish Open in 2009.
Meanwhile, Ajay Jayaram too produced a gallant performance against world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia before going down fighting 21-19, 21-18 in a 37-minute match.
“It was my first match and I was taking things a little lightly, playing different strokes but I didn’t except him to play so well. I was trying a few things, taking a feel of the stadium. A few line calls went against me but in the end it was a fair and square match,” Lee said.
Disappointed to end up on the losing side after leading 18-15 in the second game, Jayaram said he is planning to balance tournaments with proper rest so that he can peak at the right time and qualify for the Olympics.
Up against Sho Sasaki of Japan, Anand Pawar fought hard before going down 19-21, 21-17, 21-12 in another men’s singles match.
Among other Indians, Akshay Dewalkar and Pradnya Gadre beat Japanese pair of Noriyasu Hirata and Miyuki Maeda 21-17, 21-17 in the mixed doubles category but their colleagues were not so lucky as they crashed out of the tournament with contrasting defeats.
Ye Na Jang and Min Seo Kim of Korea put paid to Meenakshi Nair and Mohita Sahdev’s hopes beating them 21-10, 21-13, while Pranav Chopra and Tarun Kona lost 17-21, 16-21 to Indonesian pair of Yohanes Rendy Sugiarto and Afiat Yuris Wirawan in men’s doubles.
Eighth seeds Shintaro Ikeda and Reiko Shiota of Japan were too hot to handle for Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan as the Indian pair’s fight ended with an 18-21, 21-17, 14-21 defeat in another mixed doubles category.
PC Thulasi and Siki Reddy also found the going tough and lost 7-21, 11-21 to Eei Hui Chin and Pei Tty Wong of Malaysia.