Thailand Open: Satwik-Ashwini enter blended doubles semifinals, Sameer’s combat ends in agony

Bangkok, January 22

India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponappa entered the mixed doubles semifinal with a stunning win, but Sameer Verma’s impressive run at the Toyota Thailand Open Super 1000 tournament came to an end after a gruelling battle here on Friday.

The unseeded pair of Satwik and Ashwini stunned fifth seeds and world no 6 Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh of Malaysia 18-21 24-22 22-20 after toiling hard for one hour and 15 minutes in a nail-biting quarterfinal duel.

The world no 22 Indian pair next will be up against top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand.

However, Sameer’s giant-killing run came to an end after he squandered a match point to go down 13-21 21-19 20-22 to world no 3 Anders Antonsen of Denmark in a men’s singles quarterfinal contest.

In the opening game, Antonsen was up 5-0 with Sameer looking tentative and struggling with his length, hitting long and wide. The Danish shuttler continued his good run, managing to keep a six-point advantage at the break.

Sameer couldn’t engage his rival in long rallies or put any kind of pressure and also struggled with his shots as Antonsen cantered to eight game points and took the opening game when the Indian went wide again.

After the change of sides, Antonsen opened up a 5-1 lead but Sameer managed to claw back with four straight points. A brilliant cross court net shot helped the Indian to keep it 7-7 before he took the lead as his opponent erred.

However, at the interval, it was Antonsen who held a slender one-point lead. Sameer kept breathing down his neck and grabbed a game point with an onrushing return. He roared back into the contest when Antenson faltered at the nets.

The decider started on a competitive note as the duo were 5-5 at one stage before Sameer moved to 9-6 with a few tricky shots and then held three-point advantage at the interval.

Antonsen regained his focus and drew parity at 13-13 after Sameer erred twice at the net. It was a game of nerves after that as both the shuttlers moved neck-and-neck till 18-18. Sameer then pushed one to the net and won a video referrel next to move to 19-19.

Sameer grabbed a match point next with a deep return but found the net next as it was 20-all. Antonsen grabbed a match point with a percise return at the fore court and sealed the match with a similar shot which the Indian failed to reach. — PTI

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