Sourabh Verma storms into Vietnam Open final

The Indian shuttler leaves it late to seal a straight-games win in the semifinal.

By Swapnil Bhopatkar ·

India’s Sourabh Verma defeated Japan’s Minoru Koga on Saturday to storm into the final of the Vietnam Open in Ho Chi Minh city.

Beating the Japanese 22-20, 21-15, it took the second-seed a strenuous effort to get the better of his opponent.

The 26-year-old will now lock horns with China’s Sun Fei Xiang, who defeated Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu Hsien in the other semi-final, for the coveted title on Sunday.

A tale of unforced errors

Just like his winning performance against Tien Minh Nguyen, Verma had a nervy start as four consecutive unforced errors gave Koga an early lead. A fightback, however, brought the game back on level terms. It took Verma as many as eight points to take the lead for the first time in the match.

Although the tie was evenly poised, the Japanese lefthander seemed extremely decisive as his explicit placements forced the Indian to be on the wrong foot several times. But that didn't bother Verma much as he managed a two-point lead by the mid-game interval. .

Never to be fazed by a tough challenge, Koga fought back to level the game 18-18. Two back-to-back points meant he was now in the ascendancy, but a resilient comeback by the Indian sealed the first game 22-20 in his favour.

Similar to the first, the Indian started the second game in the backseat, as Koga stretched opened with a 7-2 lead. Another fightback was on cards, as the Indian reduced the gap to just one point with Koga leading at 9-8. But from here on the Japanese upped the tempo to go into the mid-game interval with his nose firmly in front at 11-8. 

However, post the break, things started falling apart for Koga as a few unforced errors saw Verma crawl back and take a 19-15 lead. That remained Koga’s final score as the Indian took home the game 21-15, to seal his spot in the final.