It was litmus test for the Indian team in the main draw of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour here at the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
More than ten Indian were in fray in singles of both men and women’s group, but only few were impressive to enter the pre-quarterfinals.
None of the Indian pairs were successful in the doubles event, but in the singles Harmeet Desai and Achanta Sharath Kamal gave a good account of their skills.
Sharath Kamal outplayed Can Akkuzu of France 4-1 to advance. After the win, he said his strategy to play an aggressive game paid off. ”I started on a positive note to deny my opponent any chance to win. Though I lost rhythm temporarily in the fourth game, I came back in the fifth,’’ he said.
Harmeet Desai also faced a French rival, Tristan Flore, but had to fight hard before winning 4-3. After the match was locked 3-all, Harmeet’s perseverance made the difference in the decider.
Harmeet was trailing 2-5, but didn’t wilt under pressure and his opponent lost focus. Flore became error-prone which opened up the game for the Indian.
Ricardo Walther of Germany beat Soumyajit Ghosh 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 8-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-6 while Sanil Shetty upset German Patrick Baum, world No 71, 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8 to enter the pre quarters.
But former national champion Anthony Amalraj failed to mount a challenge, losing 4-0 to Koki Niwa of Japan.
In the women’s singles, India’s top player Manika Batra was off-colour, losing to team-mate Mousumi Paul 7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 4-11.
Unseeded Krittwika Sinha Roy, 22, was on the verge of upsetting world No 36 Huajun Jiang of Hong Kong. She dominated the contest, but lost momentum in the home stretch of the match lasting an hour.
After Huajun beat her 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 13-11, 8-11, 8-11, 17-19, Krittwika admitted she became error-prone in the decider. “I was a bit scared to take risk when my opponent was attacking. I became defensive. I failed to read my opponent when it matter most. It was a big mistake,’’ she said.
India’s Sutirtha Mukherjee entered the next round, defeating seasoned team-mate Ankita Das 11-5, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9.
Harmeet Desai (IND) beat Tristan Flore (FRA) 11-4, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6; Koki Niwa (JPN) beat Anthony Amalraj (IND) 11-4, 11-5, 15-13, 11-4; Tianyi Jiang (HKG) beat Benedikt Duda (GER) 5-11, 4-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-3, 11-9; Yuto Muramatsu (JPN) beat Abdel-Kader Salifou (FRA) 12-10, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5; Achanta Sharath Kamal (IND) beat Can Akkuzu (FRA) 11-5, 11-8, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9.
Huajun Jiang (HKG) beat Krittwika Roy (IND) 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 13-11, 8-11, 8-11, 19-17; Mousumi Paul (IND) beat Manika Batra (IND) 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8; Sutirtha Mukherjee (IND) beat Ankita Das (IND) 11-5, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9.