Australian Open: Verma’s ‘In-Game Strategising’ Packs Off Loh

Sameer Verma’s characteristic defiance was duly rewarded in Sydney on Thursday – the Indian is in an HSBC BWF World Tour quarterfinal again after the 2022 Swiss Open.

Verma’s progress at SATHIO GROUP Australian Open 2024 came at the expense of eighth seed Loh Kean Yew, who continued his recent habit of early exits (no further than Round of 16) at five of six tournaments since winning the Spain Masters in March.

Loh had looked good for the win but Verma just wasn’t prepared to leave without a fight. And fight he did, clawing back from 11-5 down at the third game interval by going on a seven-point run to arrest the initiative. It disturbed Loh’s composure – the Singaporean again let his lead slip at 18-16. Verma kept his to see the job through 21-14 14-21 21-19.

“My aim was to play to my fullest ability, bring everything out,” he said after the 62-minute tussle. “I was able to strategise between rallies and execute my style, which is retrieve, then go for attack.

“I had a strong finish to the second game and the momentum carried over to the third. My approach was ‘let’s try for one point’ even when I was six behind.”

Ranked as high as 11th in the world in 2019, a shoulder problem blunted the 29-year-old’s sharpness. Still, he picked up the odd upsets now and then, like the ones over top 10 stars Anders Antonsen (Denmark Open 2021) and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (French Open 2022).

This season, three of four World Tour events ended in qualification rounds. The goal remains regrasping that old groove that brought him two World Tour titles in 2018.

“I was struggling with multiple injuries and some issues with my body. Now I’m trying to get back the consistency to play at that level,” said the world No.114. “Physically I’m good, it’s more about confidence. This one week is all about that.

“I’m focused on the next round. Let’s see how it goes, I don’t want to celebrate too early. I just want to give my 100 per cent.”

Verma’s journey at the Quaycentre continues with a first-time meeting with Lin Chun-Yi in the last eight on Friday.

Results (Round of 16)

Order of play (Quarterfinals)


“We didn’t expect to make the main draw. We just tried entering our names and with some pairs pulling out, we got in. It’s a good opportunity to improve my game as matches in this discipline are longer. This is a one-off but I’m enjoying myself. Good fun.” – Lai Pei Jing on playing women’s doubles with Lim Chiew Sien

“This game caught me by surprise. I’ve been feeling a little sore all week so I wasn’t at my optimal condition. My priority will be healing because I want to get to Paris 100 per cent.” – Peru’s Olympic Games-bound Ines Lucia Castillo after losing to Aya Ohori

“Having come this far, four tournaments in five weeks, it’s all mental now as your body starts tiring. You have to keep going and going, you just have to tell yourself that.” – Lee Zii Jia after making the quarterfinal at a fourth consecutive competition

Castillo, one of the debutants in Paris.

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