Young shuttlers Sourabh Verma and RMV Gurusai Datt continued their rampaging run in the Indian Open Super Series, notching up contrasting wins in the second round to reach the quarterfinals of the men's singles event at the Siri Fort Complex on Thursday.
Madhya Pradesh lad Sourabh once again led the charge as he continued his giant-killing spree with a 21-19 18-21 21-11 upset win over seventh seed Kenichi Tago, while Gurusai sent Yuhan Tan of Belgium packing to a 21-13 14-21 21-13 defeat.
However, India number one P Kashyap found the going tough against world number two Taufik Hidayat and lost 21-17 21-19. Sourabh, who is ranked 218 in the world, sent out a wave of euphoria across the sparse crowd when he beat the world number 25 Japanese in an hour's time.
The 20-year-old didn't allow his higher-ranked opponent to settle down and varied the pace of the game, playing an array of strokes. He moved fast on the court and kept the shuttle flat while serving.
In the first game, Sourabh failed to judge the shuttle well but caught up with Tago at 15-15 before wrapping it up at 21-19.
Not ready to give up, the Japanese opened up a three-point lead at 12-9 in the second game and though Sourabh drew parity at 16-16, he surged ahead to bounce back.
In the decider, Sourabh stepped up the gas and employed a more aggressive approach to open up a huge 6-0 lead as Tago's game crumbled.
"The last match had given me a lot of confidence and I knew if I play well, I can beat him. I made sure that I didn't repeat the last match's mistakes and tried to control the game. We were equal in speed and power as we both are young and so it was tiring in the third game. But I didn't want to defend so I went for my strokes in the third and was aggressive from the start," Sourabh said.
While Sourabh was swift and fluent on the court, Gurusai was slow and sluggish but the Andhra Pradesh lad was still good enough for his Belgium rival.
While in the first game, the world number 52 Indian didn't give Tan any chance, he was erratic in the second game, conceding a lot of points through enforced errors as the 78th ranked Belgium fought back into contention.
But Gurusai got his act together quickly in the decider and moved ahead 10-1 to seal a place in the quarters. "It was good match, I had to win it. I was slow and rusty today. I was ok when I was practicing in the morning but once I stepped on to the court, I was not moving fast. He was good at the nets. He was pushing me behind but I was ready in the third game," he said.
"I have played him before and won the last encounter as well. I need to recover well and be ready for the next match."
This is the second time in his career that Gurusai has reached the quarterfinals of a Super Series, the last being the Denmark Open in 2009.
Kashyap, meanwhile, had to settle for a loss yet again after having played three close games against the Indonesian star in the past one year.
Taufik was better prepared and controlled the game, right from the start. He was better at the nets and his smashes also left Kashyap clueless.
"His (Hidayat's) net play was very good today. He was smashing well and controlling the game. My strategy was to keep the rally going but I couldn't stick to that. He was putting me in awkward situation," Kashyap said.
"My movements were good today. But Hidayat waits for his opponent's mistakes and I made a couple of errors to concede quick points. I believe a little more experience could have worked in my favour," he added.
Hidayat said he was lucky today and admitted "it wasn't an easy match". "I am a lucky guy today. Kashyap is a good player but he made many mistakes, especially the last point when his serve hit the net. I have played him thrice, all close matches but today I was lucky," said the world no. 2 shuttler.
In the quarterfinals, Sourabh will take on the winner between world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and Hyun Il Lee of Korea, while Gurusai will clash with eighth seed Yun Hu of Hong Kong.