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Achanta storms into men's TT final

India's top paddler played a fiery attacking game to upset the higher-ranked Nigerian Segun Toriala and storm into the men's singles finals.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2006 15:27 IST

India's top paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal played a fiery attacking game to upset the higher-ranked Nigerian Segun Toriala and storm into the men's singles finals at the 18th Commonwealth Games on Saturday.

Sharath played with a mission against the second seeded Nigerian to avenge the defeat in the quarterfinals of the team event as he pulverised Segun 11-6 15-13 11-8 11-3 to raise hopes of a second yellow metal in table tennis after the one in the men's team event.

The third seeded Indian is now the favourite to take the gold medal when he takes on William Henzell of Australia, who is 52 spots below him in world rankings.

Henzell defeated Adam Robertson of Wales 11-5 11-9 13-11 11-2 to make a place in the final.

"It is one of my biggest victories. He (Toriala) has defeated me twice and I had to play my best to get past him," an elated Sharath said.

The big-hitting Segun, ranked 40 places above Sharath in the charts, could not handle the Indian's offensive game and gave up easily.

"It was one of the best table tennis I have ever played. I did not commit any unforced errors and my forehand was working great. I just took him by surprise with my attacking game. I really hit hard and returned very well," the world number 151 said.

Commonwealth champion Sharath has been in sparkling form in Melbourne and has beaten higher ranked players like world number 55 Yang Zi, who went down to the Indian in the finals of the team event.

The 111-ranked Nigerian regained his touch and forced Sharath on the backfoot in the second game taking a 10-8 lead.

The Indian, however, rallied hard and notched a 15-13 to take a stranglehold on the match.

Sharath continued to dictate terms as he kept the Nigerian away from the table and forced him away from his natural offensive style.

"The second game was very crucial because I was down. I knew that I could not defend against him because he is very agressive. So I played my natural attacking game. Once I took the second game, he was nervous and rest was easy for me," the Arjuna awardee said.

Although he faces a lower ranked opponent in the final, Sharath is gaurding against complacency.

"Though my rival in the final (Henzell) is ranked below me, he has been in good form in the tournament and won his last two matches in straight games. I am not taking him lightly," he said.

First Published: Mar 25, 2006 15:27 IST