Achanta Sharath Kamal cashed in on playing at home, drawing on the extra energy to upstage fancied Japanese rival, Yuto Muramatsu, and enter the men’s singles quarterfinals of the
International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour in the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium on Friday.
Sharath Kamal made light of the global rankings — Muramatsu is 23rd in the world, 39 places above the Indian --- as he pulled off a convincing 4-1 victory (11-8, 11-7, 11-4, 14-16, 11-5).
The experienced Sharath Kamal seemed to have worked out his strategy against Muramatsu, a defensive player. Although the Japanese made a comeback by winning the fourth game, he had no answer to Sharath Kamal’s attacking game after that.
On the adjoining table, Sanil Shetty couldn’t emulate his compatriot, losing his pre-quarterfinal 4-2 to Robert Gardos of Austria.
Sharath Kamal oozed confidence as he raced to 7-4 in the opening game. With a power-packed forehand, his big weapon, he won points and left his fourth-seeded Japanese rival frustrated.
After pocketing the first game, the Indian sustained his effort in the second and third games too. He slowed his game in the fourth to let the Japanese make a comeback, but switched to his initial aggressive tactics to wrap it up.
Sharath Kamal said he had done his homework. ‘’Playing power game was the only answer to win, if you are playing against someone like Muramatsu. The game plan worked to my advantage,’’ he added.
The tournament has established India’s top players need to work extra hard to make an impact. None of the five Indians in the women’s pre-quarters could make it to the last eight.
Of them, Archana Kamath, 16, was the most impressive. The Bengaluru schoolgirl fought bravely against Japan’s Sakura Mori, but lost 4-2. She said making mistakes when her rival was attacking proved decisive. ‘’It unsettled me a bit, I wasn’t able to recover. In a tough match, chances of winning diminish if you are on the back foot. There was a chance, but I failed to grab it.”
Women’s singles (pre-quarters)
Hoi Kem Doo (HKG) bt Mousumi Paul (IND) 11-2 11-6 11-6 13-11
Huajun Jiang (HKG) bt Sutirtha Mukherjee (IND) 11-4, 11-3, 13-11, 9-11, 11-6
Matilda Ekholm (SWE) bt Po-Hsuan Lin (TPE) 11-3, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6
Jieni Shao (POR) bt Yi-Ju Wang (TPE) 10-12, 13-11, 17-15, 11-6, 11-5
Wing Nam NG (HKG) bt Mouma Das (IND) 11-6, 11-7, 11-9, 15-13
Georgina Pota (HUN) bt Wai Yam Minnie Soo (HKG) 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 12-10
Tze Wing Mak (HKG) bt Ho Ching Lee (HKG) 11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 9-11
Sakura Mori (JPN) bt Archana Girish Kamath (IND) 11-3, 13-11, 5-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-4
Men’s singles (pre-quarters)
Robert Gardos (Austria) bt Sanil Shetty 11-9, 8-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7