Sameer beats Sugiarto, keeps knockout hopes alive

Guangzhou: India’s Sameer Verma dished out a dominating performance to outclass Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto in straight games to keep his hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage alive at the BWF World Tour Finals here Thursday.

World No 14 Sameer, who qualified for the tournament at the last moment after defending his title at the Syed Modi International last month, looked at ease against the 10th ranked Sugiarto, defeating him 21-16 21-7 in a 40-minute Group B clash.

The 24-year-old Indian, who had lost the opening match against world no 1 and world champion Kento Momota, will face Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen next on Friday. He had defeated Wangcharoen en route to his Swiss Open title but lost at the Thailand Open this year.

Sameer had come into the tournament with a 1-1 head-to-head record against the Indonesian and he looked comfortable as his sharp game made life difficult for his opponent. The Indian lagged 1-3 and 5-6 initially but he soon wrested the lead with four straight points before entering the break at 11-7. Sugiarto stried to stage a comeback and narrowed the deficit to 16-17 but Sameer reeled off the remaining four points to earn the bragging rights.

In the second game, Sugiarto again took a slender 5-3 advantage early on but the Indian soon stamped his authority to move from 7-6 to 16-6 with a nine-point burst and then slammed the door on his rival with another five straight points.

Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu will take on World No 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in a Group A women’s singles match later in the day. The top two players from each group will qualify for the semifinals, after which a knockout draw will be conducted.