Fighting Sharath bows out in semis

Table Tennis India Open : Japan's Harimoto beats Indian ace to book final berth

Fighting Sharath bows out in semis

 Sharath Kamal’s campaign in the World Tour India Open was put to rest by Japanese teenaged prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex on Saturday.

 Turning out for his late night men’s semifinal contest, Sharath lost 7-11, 11-5, 7-11, 13-11, 9-11, 9-11. With him the Indian presence in the tournament also got over. Earlier, Sharath regaled a decent turnout with a hard fought 11-4, 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11 victory over sixth-seeded Englishman Paul Drinkhall.

 But Harimoto, the junior world champion, kept Sharath in a bind with his fast paced, attacking returns and serve. The Indian had to pull out all his experience against the diminutive 13-year-old prodigy, who was superb with his movement around the table. The Indian was often left to do the catching up job but managed to level at 2-2. However, a service error by him at 9-10 in the fifth game handed Japanese the 3-2 lead. Fighting for survival in the sixth game, Sharath twice conceded lead before Harimoto took over and let out a roar after the Indian’s forehand sailed long.

  “I could see he was scared of my power but I made too many unforced errors. At 2-2, I thought it could be my day. It was a good tournament for me, but it didn’t have the right ending. There are lessons to be learnt,” said Sharath.

In the final, Harimoto will meet the top seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov who beat Japan’s Koki Niwa, eking out 8-11, 11-2, 9-11, 12-10, 14-16, 11-2, 11-8 to seal the final place.

 Earlier in the evening, egged on by a small but raucous gathering, the 34-year-old Sharath was off to a dream start conceding mere four points in the first game.

But Drinkhall, the world no. 42, fought back in the second and third games to lead 2-1. Sharath then raised the tempo to pocket to take next two. In the tight sixth game, Drinkhall kept his calm to bring the match on an even keel.

The seasoned Englishman carried the momentum in the final game and led 8-5, thanks to a series of forehand errors by Sharath.

But the Indian clawed his way back to level. It gave way to some tense moments, as both held a match point each, only to fritter it away. Sharath, at 12-11, conjured his second match point. As crowd watched with bated breath, Sharath found just enough room to hit a rasping forehand drive and flung his bat in relief.

Results: Singles: Men: Semifinals: 1-Dimitrij Ovtcharov bt 3-Koki Niwa (Jpn) 8-11, 11-2, 9-11, 12-10, 14-16, 11-2, 11-8, 14-Tomokazu Harimoto bt 11-Sharath Kamal  11-7, 5-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9

Quarterfinals 1-Dimitrij Ovtcharov (Ger) bt 5-Yuya Oshima (Jpn)- 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 12-10,3-Koki Niwa (Jpn) bt Tianyi Jiang (Hkg) 11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-8, 11-8, 14-Tomokazu Harimoto (Jpn) bt 8-Robert Gardos (Aut) 4-11, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11- Sharath Kamal bt 6-Paul Drinkhall (Eng) 11-4, 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11

Women: Semifinals: 4-Matilda Ekholm (Swe) bt 1-Hoi Kem Doo (Hkg) 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-3, 6-Sakura Mori bt 8-Wing Nam Ng (Hkg) 13-11, 12-10, 10-12, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6.

Quarterfinals: 8-Wing Nam NG (Hkg) bt  3-Georgina Pota (Hun) - 11-9, 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-3, 6-Sakura Mori (Jpn) bt  11-Tze Wing Mak (Hkg) - 11-6, 13-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7

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