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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Chances 50/50 against Denmark if doubles crack their match: Sameer Verma

India start as definite underdogs against the home team and title favourites at Aarhus and with Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen are staring at a tough challenge in their quarters.

Written by Shivani Naik |
October 15, 2021 3:24:08 pm
Sameer Verma, Badminton player Sameer VermaSameer Verma was speaking to BWF after his close loss to Lu Guang Zu in the third set, (Twitter/BWF)

India might’ve lost 4-1 to China is the final group tie at the Thomas Cup. But the singles arsenal reckons they can push the pedal when they play Denmark at 5 pm. IST.  Sameer Verma speaking to BWF after his close loss to Lu Guang Zu in the third set, said if the doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty get going, it will propel the three singles aces too.

India start as definite underdogs against the home team and title favourites at Aarhus and with Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen are staring at a tough challenge in their quarters. But Verma stressed that there’s a good vibe going into the Last 8, based on the good form that Satwik-Chirag are currently playing with.

The Indian doubles combine had levelled 1-1 against China on Thursday, in a dominant win over He ji Ting / Zhou Hao Dong. Though it’s a long shot, Verma reckoned that the presence of a buzzing doubles made things interesting. “I’d say 50-50…because our men’s doubles is playing well. So let’s see,” he told BWF. Satwik-Chirag will play Kim Astrup – Anders Rasmussen in the first doubles.

It’s in the singles though that India will need to punch above their weight. Verma had four match points that he flubbed, and will want to make amends against Rasmus Gemke – though that will require the tie to reach the fifth rubber – a 2-2 situation.

But Verma was happy with his game until the win was snatched from him by the bouncy Chinese. “I was playing good, but in the third set I led 20-17 and last few points he managed very well. I need to focus on finishing. But movement, strokes was good…maybe little more focus is needed,” he said.

Lu on his part showed incredible spirit to save four match points. “Very tough game, specially in the third at 17-20 down..but I didn’t think that much. Happy to win for team. I first started to make mistakes at 13 point mark. And he was good at net shots, drawing errors. In the end, I didn’t actually think…at match point,” said the pugnacious Chinese.

Srikanth, Sai key

It’s been a torrid season for India’s men’s singles players with the big wins drying out, and criticism piling with every loss. Rebuffing opportunities though, they have been prolifically guilty of. This might be a good time to pick up their games.

Srikanth went down in straight sets to Shi Yuqi, but felt his game was on track. “I played well in patches, but am lacking consistency and I should work on it. But I’m playing well. Did give him too many points in a row, first and second set. If I can really cut down on easy mistakes I’m up there. I feel I’m one big win away,” he said after the China tie. He is scheduled to go up against Viktor Axelsen.

Kidambi Srikanth Kidambi Srikanth (Twitter/BWF)

The small mistakes might not be that small, if they are cumulative. And the talented No 1 for India will need to eschew excuses and back his game against the Olympic champion. “Cutting down on easy mistakes is important. I played well in parts. When the second started was doing well , but then gave him 6-7 points in a row…. If i’d avoided that, it could’ve been 15-all…or 16,” he stressed. The opportunity is upon him again.

Sai Praneeth will need to down Anders Antonsen. The trick-match could be the second doubles – where Mathias Christiansen and Frederik Sogaard go up against Dhruv Kapila-MR Arjun – if it goes into the fourth tie.

Srikanth says he’s playing better than Sudirman Cup. “I just need confidence (of pulling out) big matches. There’s 8-10 players playing extremely well in the world. I feel I’m getting there,” he said. It won’t get tougher  than the Olympic champion, albeit whom he’s beaten before, notably four distant seasons ago.

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