On a comeback trail after recovering from a series of injuries, Sourabh Verma today clinched the men's singles title at the Chinese Taipei Open after defeating Malaysia's Daren Liew in the summit clash of the USD 55,000 Grand Prix tournament here.
The 23-year-old from Madhya Pradesh rallied to grab the first two games and emerged victorious after his opponent Liew retired in the third game due to a shoulder injury with the scoreline reading 12-10 12-10 3-3 in the Indian's favour.
It was a case of being third time lucky as Sourabh, who had ended runners-up at Belgium and Poland international challengers, finally crossed the finishing line after spending almost a year on the sidelines due to elbow and knee injuries last year.
"It is a great victory for me and a much needed one. I had reached the finals at Belgium and Poland but could not win. So I was determined not to make the same mistakes here and I am happy I could win today," Sourabh, who was the 2011 national champion and was runners-up this year, told PTI over the phone.
Sourabh started off well in the opening game and was leading 5-3 at one stage but Liew soon turned the tables with a five-point burst to lead 8-5. But Sourabh kept breathing down his neck and at 7-10, reeled off five straight points to grab the first game.
The second game turned out to be more difficult as Liew once again surged to a 5-1 lead and held on till 10-6 when the Indian stepped on the gas and once again grabbed six points on the trot to leave Liew shocked.
In the third game, after an initial battle, Liew retired at 3-3 owing to a problematic shoulder.
"My opponent was playing well but in the third game he felt some shoulder pain and retired. He was in fact leading in the first two games and was very comfortable. I started well but made too many mistakes. But I managed to pull off the opening game. In the second game also I gave away too many easy points but I am happy I could control it in the end," Sourabh said.
(REOPENS FGN 7)
Talking about his injury-plagued phase, Sourabh said: "It has been a tough phase, I guess injuries are always difficult. Actually in 2014, I was in good shape, I was playing well but I could not win as I was cracking in crucial moments.
"But last year I was out of competition for most part of the year. I had a stress fracture in right elbow and it took 3-4 months to recover. I came back to training but again I got tendinitis in my left knee, which again kept me out for a couple of months.
"I did play one tournament in June at Hyderabad All India ranking and reached the finals. I finally made a comeback in November and also reached the finals at TATA Open in December last year.
"This year I didn't get to play too many tournaments. But after reaching the finals at Belgium and Poland, I was gaining in confidence. If I could have played more events then probably I could have won the titles," he added.
Sourabh said he will look to regain his place in the top 40 to be able to compete at Super Series events.
"I was in top 30 in 2015 March but suddenly my ranking dropped to 190 and that is the biggest hindrance, if I could have played I could have done better," he said.
"I'm concentrating on the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Golds now. I am playing Bitburger Open next. I have to get into the top 40 as soon as possible to get entry into superseries event.