Achanta Sharath Kamal had to settle for the sixth spot after he went down to South Korean Kim Minseok 3-4 in a thriller at the 28th Asian Cup Table Tennis championship on Saturday.
In the preceding edition too, Sharath had lost to the Korean to be at the sixth position in Wuhan.
Later, World No. 2 Xu Xin was stretched by Sharath's conqueror, Japan's Jun Mizutani before the Chinese prevailed 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7. Xin takes on compatriot Fan Zhendong in Sunday's final. The 18-year-old sensation sailed past Tang Peng of Hong Kong 11-3, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9.
In the women's summit clash, Liu Shiwen of China will face Feng Tianwei of Singapore.
The 49th-ranked Sharath may have lost the 5-6 play-off 11-8, 2-11, 17-15, 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 10-12, but yet again proved that his pre-eminence in India as well as on the world stage was retained. With an impressive result at the SMS Indoor Stadium in Jaipur on Saturday, he has boosted his qualifying chances for the World Cup to be held later in the year.
"It was a little disappointing, but he won the crucial points that mattered," said Kamal, who at last found a way earlier in the day to overcome his nemesis and world number 15 Gao Ning, disposing him 11-7, 4-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 and assured himself of the sixth position.
"With today's (Saturday's) triumph against Gao, I have taken the monkey off my back," said Kamal. This, in a way, was soothing and enabled the Indian ace to put his quarterfinal defeat in the morning to World No. 5 Mizutani behind.
What made the difference to the two-time Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold winner was the crucial fourth game. He led 3-1 but his opponent was up to the task and surged ahead 10-8. That was when Kamal fought back well to take four straight points.
The Indian ace was denied a semi-final spot by Mizutani who was simply too fast as he gave Kamal minimal time to exert his powerful forehand top-spin.
By Kamal's own admission, he could not have played any better than he did against his superior Japanese opponent, who kept attacking from both flanks. Kamal had no convincing answers as Mizutani mixed it up well with a variety of serves and hammered winners, both cross court and down the line, with pinpoint precision as he raced to victory, eventually winning the match 11-3, 14-12, 11-2, 11-6.
"I don't think I played badly. I would say he was just too good. He is certainly in a different league," said Kamal, who had beaten World No. 8 and 16 to reach the quarterfinals on Friday.