India international Sourabh Verma and former national champion Rituparna Das reached the finals of the All India Senior Ranking Tournament in Bengaluru on Saturday. This is one of the two tournaments that serves as a selection trial for the Asian Games.
Verma, who used to consistently be ranked in the world’s top 30 before a string of injuries hampered his career, defeated former junior world No 1 Lakshya Sen 21-16, 21-19 in the quarter-finals. Verma, 25, then ousted Daniel Farid 21-16, 21-14 in the semis to book a spot in the final, where he take on top seed Pratul Joshi, 23. Joshi defeated Arintap Dasgupta 21-14, 21-15 in the quarters, before beating fourth seed Kartik Jindal 21-16, 21-16.
In the women’s singles, second seed Sai Uttejitha Rao battled into the final after being taken to three games in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals. Rao, 19, needed an hour and six minutes to beat Bhavya Rishi 21-12, 14-21, 21-13 in the quarters. She then lost the first game of her semi-final against 13th seed Ashmita Chaliha, before just about managing to win it 7-21, 21-15, 22-20.
In the other women’s singles semi-final, Das defeated India’s top-ranked junior Aakarshi Kashyap 21-11, 21-11. It is quite possible that Kashyap had run out of gas after a marathon quarter-final match against 16th seed Shikha Gautam, which she won 25-23, 21-23, 21-15 after 90 minutes. Das had also played a three-game match in the quarters, beating ninth seed Kanika Kanwal 21-10, 15-21, 21-9.
There were some upsets in the doubles, as new pair Rutaparna Panda and Arathi Sunil first knocked out India internationals J Meghana and Poorvisha Ram 21-14, 21-14 in the quarter-finals, before sending the second seeds Aparna Balan and Sruthi KP packing 21-16 21-17. Panda usually plays with Mithula UK, but the latter is injured.
In the final, Rutaparna and Arathi will take on another young and upcoming pair of Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker. Simran and Ritika beat the top seeds Dhanya Nair and Ashna Roy 21-10, 21-15 in the quarter-finals, before defeating Trisha Hegde and Drithi Yatheesh 24-22, 23-21 in the semis.
The men’s doubles top seeds, Arun George and Sanyam Shukla, were also knocked out in the quarters by the young pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Dhruv Kapila, who went on to reach the final. They will take on Arjun MR and Shlok Ramchandran, who had represented India at the Thomas Cup recently, in the summit clash.
Arun George, however, made the mixed doubles final along with Arathi Sunil. The two will take on Dhruv Kapila and Meghana J in the summit clash. This means that Arathi Sunil and Dhruv Kapila will play in two doubles finals on Sunday.