India was assured a berth in the US Open Super 300 badminton tournament semi-final when second seed HS Prannoy and national champion Sourabh Verma set uo a quarter-final clash in Fulerton on Thursday.
Prannoy, the 2017 US Open champion, staved off a strong challenge from Korea’s Heo Kwang Hee 21-16, 18-21, 21-16 in an hour while Verma maintained his stranglehold on up and coming Lakshya Sen to win 21-11, 19-21, 21-12 in the second round.
Sen, who last lost to Verma in the senior nationals final in Guwahati, began strong as he opened up a 10-4 lead in the opening game. But the experienced Verma first levelled scores by bagging the next six points. Though the youngster managed to go into the break with a one-point advantage, Verma won the next 11 points to pocket the opening game.
However, Sen wasn’t willing to give up and just when Verma looked like racing to victory by claiming nine of the 10 points from 10-15 deficit to take a 19-10 lead. But the Asian junior champion found his mojo to clinch the next five points on the trot to force a decider.
In the final game, Verma made the most of his experience as he took an early lead and consolidated his position to wrap the match in 53 minutes.