India’s ace paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal held his nerves and maintained his composure in the deciding moments as he toppled the top-seed Marcos Freitas of Portugal to clinch the ITTF Challenger Plus Oman Open 2020 title on Sunday. In the men’s singles final, the veteran Indian campaigner recovered brilliantly from a game down to outclass Freitas 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 17-15 to win his first Challenger event final nearly after a decade. Also Read - COVID-19: Delhi Police Doing Commendable Job in Testing Times, Says Star Paddler Manika Batra
The 37-year-old Sharath last bagged a Pro tour title in 2010 when he won Egypt Open. Since then he made two semifinal appearances – Morocco Open in 2011 and India Open in 2017 – but couldn’t manage to get through it. Also Read - Sharath Kamal Wants Tokyo Olympics Postponed Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Earlier in the semifinals, Sharath pulled off a stunning come-from-behind victory against Russia’s Kirill Skachkov. Fourth-seeded Sharath made a sensational comeback after being two games down to register 11-13, 11-13, 13-11, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7 win in a thrilling seven-set semi-final that lasted for one hour and eight minutes. Also Read - Thought I Made a Big Mistake After Hearing Polish Open Being Suspended: Achanta Sharath Kamal
Freitas entered final with a 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-3 win over India’s Harmeet Desai.
Desai dominated the match at the initial stage but the world no. 26 Freitas fought his way back after being 1-3 down and went on to win the next three successive games to enter the final.
Speaking about the atmosphere at the Table Tennis event amidst the Coronavirus scare, Sharath feels the usual buzz was missing from the tournament. “Players are taking a lot of precautions by frequently washing their hands as advised. We are trying to have as minimum contact with each other. Also no shaking hands before and after matches.”
“Things are pretty scary especially after the lockdown of many European countries as players didn’t know whether they should go back or continue with the tournament,” Sharath was quoted by HT from Muscat.
Results: Men’s Singles Final – Achanta Sharath Kamal bt Marcos Freitas (Portugal) 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 17-15.
Men’s Singles Semifinals – Achanta Sharath Kamal bt Kirill Skachkov (Russia) 11-13, 11-13, 13-11, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7; Harmeet Desai lost to Marcos Freitas (Portugal) 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-3.