Indonesia Open | Sameer Verma falls even as doubles pairs progress

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Image Courtesy: © Facebook - Premier Badminton League

Indonesia Open | Sameer Verma falls even as doubles pairs progress

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Amlan Majumdar

06/01/2016

India’s rising star Sameer Verma faltered against World No.2 Lee Chong Wei in straight sets in the first round of the 2016 Indonesia Open on Wednesday at Jakarta. Earlier though, the doubles pairs of Jwala Gutta-Ashwini and Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy progressed to the second round.

On a day marred by four walkovers and a retirement by top players, Lee Chong Wei ended Sameer Verma’s hopes in the first round of the Indonesia Open. The 2nd seed took 35 minutes to dispatch off the 21-year old Indian 21-11, 21-13. Sameer Verma, though, showed glimpses of his talent as he kept the Malaysian on his toes through every point despite the score line suggesting otherwise. The match was marked by long rallies with both players looking to stretch their opponent into making a mistake. The Indian, outclassed in the first game, made a much better start to the second. He led the veteran 11-10 at the interval, before Chong Wei’s deft touches at the net and experience proved too much. The five-time champion reeled off five points from 16-13 to close out the match.

It was not all disappointment for the Indian fans though, as earlier the doubles pairs of Manu Attri/Sumeeth Reddy and Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa progressed to the next round. Attri and Sumeeth were up against the Philippine pairing of Gabriel Magnaye/Alvin Morada, whom they beat 21-13, 21-16. The 32-minute encounter was largely one-sided. The Indian pair made few unforced errors as they look to gain momentum before Rio’16, their first Olympics.

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa also reached the second round in Jakarta beating Indonesians Kusuma/Sugiarto 21-7, 20-22, 21-10. Clearly the superior pair on the day, the Indians did cause a minor scare though when they lost the second game. It was an apparent loss in concentration though as they pocketed the third quite easily. Yet they were a few causes for concern they would want to look into. Partners since a long time, Jwala/Ashwini had a few moments of confusion which might prove pretty costly against tougher opposition. Their defence and front court play also seemed lacking.

There was some disappointment for the crowd at Jakarta though with top seed Chen Long pulling out and handing a walkover to Sony Dwi Kuncoro. Favourites in men’s doubles Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang and women’s doubles 7th seeds Luo Ying/Luo Yu also pulled out. Adding to the numbers withdrawing was Viktor Axelsen. The Dane retired from his match against Huang Yuxiang with the score at 21-16, 16-21, 4-8.

The Indians in action on Thursday would be Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa against Huang Yaqiong/Tang Jinhua. Also taking the court would be Manu Attri/ Sumeeth Reddy. They would be up against 6th seeds KO Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Cheol and would need to bring their top game in order to get past them.

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