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Achanta Sharath Kamal upsets sixth seed Paul Drinkhall, enters India Open semis

Achanta Sharath Kamal defeated sixth seed Paul Drinkhall to enter India Open semifinals on Saturday.

other sports Updated: Feb 18, 2017 21:43 IST
Achanta Sharath Kamal,Paul Drinkhall,India Open
Achanta Sharath Kamal beat Paul Drinkhall in the India Open quarterfinals.(IMG Reliance)

Achanta Sharath Kamal pulled off a nerve-wracking 11-4, 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11 victory over sixth seed Paul Drinkhall of England to surge into the semi-finals of the 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday.

The seven-time national champion and World No. 62 had to pull out his prime defensive game to outwit and outlast Drinkall, a multiple medal winner in the last two Commonwealth Games.

It proved to be a battle of nerves and patience as Drinkall slowed down the pace of the contest, keeping the ball short while also loading it with devastating spin. He wasn’t allowed to play his natural, attacking game and had to rely on each other’s errors to win every point.

Sharath began on a strong note, racing away to a 11-4 win in the opening game. But Drinkhall quickly got his game together and frustrated and stunned Sharath with his well thought out tactics. He won the next two games 12-10, 11-9 to put the pressure entirely on the Indian, who had the full backing of a heavily invested crowd.

The 34-year-old Sharath began to look for openings to attack from that stage, and came back strongly to win the next two 12-10, 11-9.

He jumped to a 3-0 lead in the next game but allowed Drinkhall to catch up with him. He again went up 6-4 but then conceded four points to lose the psychological advantage. Drinkhall rode on the momentum to take the sixth game and place the match on the edge.

By now, the crowds were on the edge even though he made a strong start in the decider, going up 2-0 and 3-1. But Drinkhall fought back and took a commanding 8-5 lead. Sharath continued to attack and it helped him get stay in the contest. He saved two match points and a couple of forehand drives saw him emerge triumphant.

He will take on Japan’s 14-year-old sensation Tomokazu Harimoto, who beat the eighth seeded Robert Gardos of Austria 4-11, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6 earlier in the day.

First Published: Feb 18, 2017 20:43 IST