Sameer Verma Wins Second Straight Syed Modi International Title
Sameer Verma pulled off a thrilling three-game victory over China’s Lu Guangzu in the men’s singles finals.
Sameer Verma pulled off a thrilling three-game victory over China’s Lu Guangzu in the men’s singles finals.(Photo: PTI)

Sameer Verma Wins Second Straight Syed Modi International Title

A gritty Sameer Verma pulled off a thrilling three-game victory over China's Lu Guangzu in the men's singles finals to retain the title at the Syed Modi International World Tour Super 300 in Lucknow on Sunday, 25 Novemebr

The 24-year-old from Madhya Pradesh showed immaculate defence and a never-say-die attitude to eke out a 16-21 21-19 21-14 win in the finals against 22-year-old Lu, who has won the Australian Open and Canada Open this year.

This was Sameer's third title win, following victories at Swiss Open and Hyderabad Open.

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The victory will also help him to surpass Japan's Kenta Nishimoto at No.8 in the HSBC Race to Guangzhou Rankings and qualify for the year-ending BWF World Tour Finals to be held in December.

Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu is the only other Indian to have qualified for the prestigious tournament in China.

“I am really happy that my efforts paid off and I could qualify for the World Tour Finals. Even before the tournament I knew that I had a chance of qualifying if I win the tournament, so that was the target.”
Sameer Verma

Sameer played patiently, constructing the rallies with his repertoire of strokes to dominate early in the opening game. He led 6-2 initially, before extending it to 8-4.

An error in judgement at the backline followed by Lu's three smashes – two at his backhand and one at his forehand – saw the Chinese claw back at 8-8.

Lu unleashed another down-the-line smash to lead 10-8 before he entered the break after winning a fast paced rally.

After the interval, Sameer seemed more positive in his approach as he levelled the scores with three points.

But Lu again turned the tide, stepping up the pace and smashed his way to a comfortable 20-14 lead when the Indian hit wide.

Sameer saved two points before another smash earned Lu the bragging rights.

“I was under pressure in the first game. I was not able to control the shuttle. He had a good attacking game and the shuttle was fast but I made a good comeback in the second, I controlled it better. I knew I had to win this match. So I was just playing for each point.”
Sameer Verma

The second game saw some exciting rallies right from the start with Sameer grinding out a 10-7 lead after spitting the initial 14 points. The Indian grabbed an 11-8 lead at the breather after Lu hit long.

After the break, Lu kept snapping at Sameer's heels, finding gaps in his rival's defence to narrow the lead to 13-14 and then turned the tables when Sameer hit the net.

A wide smash from Lu again gave the lead to Sameer at 17-16. But two precise returns helped Lu to draw parity at 18-18.

Another fast-paced rally ended with Lu hitting wide and he found the net next to hand two game points to Sameer. The Indian missed the line once but produced an accurate return at the backline to take the match to decider.

Sameer strengthened his defence and used the momentum of the second game to dominate early in the decider.

He led 6-7 but Lu once again scripted a recovery, reeling off seven straight points to claw back at 7-7 and then led 10-7.

Sameer unleashed a body smash to break the run of points and then hit two sizzling smashes to make it 10-10. Lu went to the net next as Sameer managed a slender 11-10 advantage at the break.

The Indian took the next two points after the change of sides, before an excellent drop shot left him sprawling on the floor.

The Indian showed immaculate defence and pounced on the chances to eke out a 16-12 lead with the help of better net game and a couple of rasping shots.

Lu crumbled after that, hitting long and wide to hand over six match points to Sameer, who converted them as the Chinese hit the net.

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