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Thursday, July 19, 2018

India Open 2017: Sameer Verma lets an opportunity slip

Sameer's giant-killing run was ended by Danish prodigy Anders Antonsen 24-22, 21-19 in 53 minutes.

Written by Tushar Bhaduri | New Delhi | Updated: April 1, 2017 10:22:32 am
Sameer went down fighting to Anders Antonsen. File

It is one that got away. Sameer Verma was the only Indian male player remaining in the draw, and despite looking good for a semifinal spot, his giant-killing run was ended by Danish prodigy Anders Antonsen 24-22, 21-19 in 53 minutes. Sameer had good leads in both games but faltered at crucial moments. After wins over No.4 seed Son wan Ho of Korea and Hong Kong’s Hu Yun on the two previous days, the Indian would have been high on confidence. But a day after his brother Sourabh exited the competition, Sameer too followed suit.

Antonsen is touted as the next big badminton hope from the country of Morten Frost Hansen. He has given ample evidence of his prowess with the European junior title in 2015 and a Grand Prix crown last year. Sameer kept him honest for the most part with his straight smashes, but the tall Dane used his superior reach and power to good effect when it mattered most. For a big unit, the 19-year-old Antonsen moves pretty effortlessly around the court, and his world ranking of 26 is only likely to improve from here on. The Yonex-Sunrise India Open has already turned out to be something of a breakthrough event for him, and Antonsen will be full of confidence going into the last-four clash with Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen, who got past another Dane Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus 21-10, 21-14.

The highest-ranked player in the men’s singles draw, Viktor Axelson will face Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long Angus, and an all-Danish title clash is not out of the question. With the likes of Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan, Chen Long and Jan O Jorgensen absent from the field, the draw on the men’s side looks more open, and the Indian boys will be kicking themselves for letting go of a good opportunity to make a mark on home turf.

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