Sameer Verma upset third seed Kiran George in the men’s singles round of 32 while Aakarshi Kashyapseeded fifth in women’s singles, saved a match point to advance to the pre-quarterfinals of the Guwahati Masters 2023 badminton tournament on Wednesday.
The experienced Sameer Verma, who has been struggling with injuries for the last few months, dominated the proceedings against fellow Indian badminton player Kiran throughout the 32-minute second round encounter, winning 21-13, 21-13.
Sameer Verma, a former world No. 11 who has now slipped to 91 in the badminton rankings and was playing in only his ninth event in the last 12 months, was slow to get off the blocks. He trailed Kiran 1-5 in the opening game but clawed his way back to level the score at 10-10 before taking the first game.
Sameer was much more clinical in the second game, racing to an 8-3 lead. Kiran tried to fight back and won five consecutive points at one stage to close the gap at 15-11 but it was too little too late.
While Kiran could not find a way past Verma, Aakarshi Kashyap held her nerves after losing the opening game to beat Schulz 15-21, 21-17, 22-20 in a match that saw the Indian shuttler play catch-up towards the end of the third game.
Kashyap saved a match point at 19-20 and then bagged two consecutive points to set up a second round clash against Chinese Taipei’s Lin Sih Yun.
Also advancing to the next round were women’s singles players Ira Sharma and Tanya Hemanth, both of whom defeated better-ranked Malaysian opponents.
Ira Sharma came from a game down to beat Wong Ling Ching, ranked 63 placed above the Indian, 17-21, 21-17, 21-12 while Tanya Hemnath got the better of Kisona Selvaduray 21-16, 15-21, 21-16 to reach the Round of 16.
Ira will now face another Malaysian Karupathevan Letshanaa while Tanya takes on compatriot Malvika Bansod for a place in the quarter-finals. Malvika Bansod had earlier defeated Uganda’s Fadilah Rafi 21-10, 21-10.
Men’s singles national champion Mithun Manjunath and junior world championships bronze medallist Ayush Shetty registered contrasting wins to advance to the next round. Mithun, seeded seventh, defeated compatriot Hemanth Gowda 21-14, 21-10 in the second round while Shetty got the better of Indonesia’s Jason Alexander 21-12, 14-21, 21-17.
Later in the day, women’s singles national champion Anupama Upadhyaya advanced to the pre-quarters with a 21-11, 21-16 win over Bilqis Prasista of Indonesia.
Results at the Guwahati Masters 2023 badminton tournament will count towards players’ qualifying rankings for the Paris 2024 Olympics.