Syed Modi International
Wang Tzu Wei and Sourabh Verma with their trophiesHotstar screengrab

For the large number of Indian fans who had come to watch their own Sourabh Verma win the BWF World Tour Super 300 Syed Modi International Badminton Championships men's singles title, Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei proved to be the villain. In just two games, Wang defeated his Indian opponent Sourabh 21-15, 21-17.

The match started with Wang getting a 2-0 lead in the first game. But then, Verma upped the ante and started playing aggressively. Soon, the Indian, backed by a boisterous crowd at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium in Lucknow, charged into a lead. However, Wang also kept up his good shot-making and had a one-point lead at the mid-game interval.

After the break, Wang started to reassert himself and also used his smashes – both cross-court and down the line – to good effect. Verma helped his Taiwanese rival with some errors also. Eventually, the first game was won relatively easily by Wang Tzu Wei.

When the second game begin, it seemed like Wang was firing on all cylinders. He was taking to the front court and playing at a fast speed. Sourabh Verma too looked to be lacking the intensity which was needed to match that of his rival.

Sourabh Verma
Sourabh Verma in actionTwitter

Aided by some loose play of the local hero, Wang raced to a 5-0 lead. But then, Verma started a mini fightback by playing a couple of impressive shots to win the next two points. However, the resistance was short-lived as the Taiwanese continued to be attacking in his mode of play and took the next two points.

What was clear at this juncture in the match was that, in order to stop Wang, Sourabh Verma needed to show some aggression himself and not let his opponent dictate the pace of the game. When the Indian took the initiative in a rally, he seemed to have the measure of Wang.

However, Verma had a couple of problems. His opponent also seemed to have the ability to go a gear up when under pressure as well as a killer smash that was nearly impossible to retrieve. The one area where the Indian did seem to have an edge was in net exchanges.

But the moment he gave Wang a chance to play his favourite cross-court smash, the Chinese Taipei player latched on to the opportunity to score a winner. The score at the mid-game interval was 11-8 in favour of Wang Tzu Wei.

After the break, Sourabh Verma conceded two more points through smashes but then launched a fightback. He used his own smash, not to score points but to push his opponent on the defensive. This strategy got him back level at 13-13 and soon in the lead. At this stage, Wang produced a good overhead shot and thanks to a couple of errors from Verma, earned three match points. He needed just one as the lob of Verma in the next rally went long to give Wang Tzu Wei the title.