Former National champion Sourabh Verma pulled off a come-from-behind win over Japan’s Koki Watanabe in the summit clash to claim his first title of the season at the $75,000 Russia Open Tour Super 100 badminton tournament here on Sunday.

The 25-year-old, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from injuries, overcame World No. 119 Watanabe 19-21, 21-12, 21-17 in the final that lasted exactly an hour at the Sport Hall Olympic.

The second-seeded Indian mixed doubles pair of Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg, however, suffered a 21-19, 21-17 loss to Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov and Min Kyung Kim of Korea to settle for a runner-up finish.

Sourabh was left to do the catch up act in the opening game as Watanabe slowly and steadily distanced himself after opening up a slender lead of 2-0. The Japanese entered the first interval with a healthy 11-5 advantage.

The Indian led a fightback to narrow the gap to 11-12 but Watanabe again jumped to a 18-13 lead. Sourabh reeled off five straight points to draw parity but the Japanese managed to move ahead and pocket the opening game.

In the second game, Sourabh cut down his errors and surged to 7-3 lead and held an 11-6 advantage at the break.

After the breather, he continued to march ahead and eventually roared back into contest comfortably.

In the decider, Watanabe zoomed to a 9-3 lead early on and held an 11-7 advantage at the interval. However, a gritty Sourabh slowly erased the deficit and clawed back at 15-15.

Finishing off

The Japanese tried to break away but Sourabh ensured there were no hiccups as he reeled off four straight points at 17-17 to shut the door on his rival.

Sourabh said he is still a work in progress and needed to improve his strength to compete consistently on the international circuit. “I’m progressing but still have to improve certain areas in my game. Next for me is Asian games and I’m already working on my strength, which will help me to continue playing in the circuit and do well.”

The results (finals): Sourabh Verma bt Koki Watanabe (Jpn) 19-21, 21-12, 21-17.

Mixed doubles: Vladimir Ivanov (Rus) & Min Kyung Kim (Kor) bt Rohan Kapoor & Kuhoo Garg 21-19, 21-17
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