Medal rush for Indian shuttlers at Russia Open

Vladivostok: Indian shuttler Sourabh Verma on Sunday bagged the gold medal in the men’s singles event, with the young mixed doubles duo of Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg bringing home the silver medal in the Russia Open.

This follows Lakshya Sen’s recent gold medal-winning performance at the Asian Juniors in Jakarta.

The Indian shuttlers continued to put up a stellar display, which was capped by sixth-seeded Sourabh, scripting a comeback win to triumph over Japan’s Koki Watanabe in the summit clash.

Having lost the first game 18-21, he prevailed in the following two registering a 21-12, 21-17 scoreline to clinch his first title of the season in a thriller that lasted exactly an hour.

In the first game, a lackluster beginning saw Sourabh trailing 5-11, even though Watanabe managed only a slender lead initially.

Yet, the former national champion showed great character and leveled at 18-18 before the world No 119 Japanese finished emphatically.

Sourabh, eager to keep himself in the hunt for the medal, looked much more composed and with his effective half-court smashes and an equally strong net play, maintained the lead to take the second game 21-12.

Watanabe looked resolute to not let his guard down in the decider, surging with an early lead of 9-3. However, Sourav staged a fine recovery from nowhere and exhibiting his prowess at rallies, re-established the lead, thanks to some clinical baseline smashes and decisive drops.

The Japanese wilted under pressure and made several unforced errors which only helped the Indian’s cause, helping Sourabh clinch the game and the match at 21-17.

Sourabh, who won the recent All India Senior National ranking tournament to make the cut for the Asian Games squad said, “It feels good to win the title and I am very satisfied with my performance here. I played my natural game and am happy how the results panned out.”

“This win will keep my morale high for the Jakarta Games next month,” he added
Earlier, Kuhoo Garg and Rohan Kapoor, who had won the silver at the Lagos International last week, continued their sublime form to repeat the success at the Russian Open.

They put up a valiant effort but succumbed 19-21, 17-21 to the Russian- Japanese combination of Vladimir Ivanon and Min Kyung Kim in the final.

The young pair is now all set to look forward to making their maiden appearance at the World Championships.

Congratulating the players for their fine show, Badminton Association of India Secretary General, Ajay K. Singhania said, “Our primary goal is to promote and give exposure to more youngsters. The recent performances of our younger lot are an indication that we are headed in the right direction. It is really commendable. We will see the participation of 25 players in the World Championship, which again is a good sign for Indian badminton.” (ANI)