New Delhi, Feb 17 (PTI) Local favourite Sharath Kamal remains the sole Indian in the fray after he won the battle of patience against Japanese defender Yuto Muramatsu to reach the men’s singles quarterfinals of the ITTF World Tour India Open table tennis tournament, here today.
In his first meeting against world number 24 Muramatsu, 62nd ranked Sharath Kamal mixed caution well with aggression to down the Japanese 11-8 11-7 11-4 14-16 11-5.
From the outset, Sharath Kamal knew what he was up against. He negotiated the defensive play from his opponent with topspin drives, mainly from the forehand side. The win was no mean feat considering Muramatsu had won his first World Tour title at the Czech Open last year.
The fourth game turned out to be an intense one with Muramatsu and Sharath Kamal getting into long rallies. The Indian could not close out the match in the fourth but bounced back brilliantly in the following game to seal the issue after racing to a 9-3 lead.
He will meet familiar foe and Commonwealth rival Paul Drinkhall of England in the last eight match tomorrow.
Drinkhall downed another defensive paddler Ruwen Filus of Germany in five games earlier in the day.
“I should have closed it in straight games but could not despite having three match points. The fifth game was comfortable. He just could not handle my power. That was the biggest difference,” said Sharath Kamal adding that he is looking forward to playing against his rival and friend Drinkhall.
Later, Sharath Kamal’s compatriot Sanil Shetty lost to higher-ranked Robert Gardos of Austria 4-2 in pre-quarterfinals.
Earlier, top seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov breezed into the quarterfinals on a day that saw a number of Indians exit the competition.
The World No 5 from Germany won both his matches emphatically here at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex to underline his class and pedigree.
However, it was disappointment for the home team as seven Indians in fray for a place in the quarterfinals exited the competition. Among them was 112th ranked Harmeet Desai, who flattered to deceive 19th ranked Koki Niwa of Japan. He had his moments in the match but was not consistent enough to trouble the Japanese.
Desai had beaten higher-ranked Tristan Flore of France in the opening round yesterday.
Gnanasekaran Sathiyan, who played his first round today, put up a brave fight before losing to ninth seeded Masataka Morizono of Japan in a seven-game affair.
In women’s singles, young Archana Kamath, who earlier in the day beat compatriot Ayhika Mukherjee 4-2 to qualify for the pre-quarters, too pushed sixth seeded Sakura Mori of Japan to the hilt before crashing out.
Archana displayed great skill and determination and a strong offensive game as well, but ran out of ideas against her more experienced opponent.
Japan’s 14-year-old sensation Harimoto Tomokazu continued his good run in the tournament, staving off a strong challenge from his compatriot Asuka Sakai to break into the quarterfinals.
Harimoto, the current junior world champion, came out attacking and claimed the first two games 11-9 11-9. Asuka, who was crowned the Under-21 champion just two days back, showed his mettle to make a strong comeback in the third game.
Harimoto won the next one 11-7 but lost the momentum in the fifth, losing 11-13 in an intense duel. Harimoto, however, was back in his elements in the sixth, attacking and screaming his way to a comfortable 11-7 triumph.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.