TT: Sharath Kamal keeps Indian dream alive; wins a thriller to enter last four in India Open
New Delhi, February 18, 2018
India’s Achanta Sharath Kamal pulled off a nerve-wracking 4-3 victory against sixth-seeded Paul Drinkhall of England to surge into the semifinals of the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open at the Thyagaraj Stadium here today.
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. Sharath was not allowed to play his natural, attacking game and the two 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 home 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 but allowed Drinkhall to catch up with him. He 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 needle.
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 to 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 4-2, earlier in the day.
Earlier in the day, top-seeded Ovtcharov Dimitrij survived a scare to advance into the semi-finals after a gruelling 4-3 victory over Yuya Oshima of Japan. The World No. 5 German who came into the match without dropping a game could not get the desired start and lost the opening game 7-11. He regained his composure to win the next three games 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 to move into a strong position. Down 1-3 and staring at the bottom of the barrel, the 39th ranked Japanese upped the ante to take the next two games 11-4, 11-6 to restore parity.
With the scores tied, both the players displayed great tenacity and got involved in a neck-to-neck battle. However, it was the German who prevailed 12-10 to move into the last four. He will now take on the third seeded Koki Niwa of Japan who sealed his berth in the semis by registering an easy 4-1 victory over the qualifier Tianyi Jiang of Hong Kong.
In the women’s singles competition, eighth seeded Wing Nam Ng of Hong Kong beat Goergina Pota of Hungary 11-9, 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-3 to set up a semi-final clash against sixth-seeded Sakura Mori of Japan who beat Tze Wing Mak of Hong Kong 11-6, 13-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7.
RESULTS (till 7 pm)
Women's Singles (Quarter-finals)
 Wing Nam NG (HKG) Beat  Georgina Pota (HUN) - 11-9, 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-3
 Sakura Mori (JPN) vs  Tze Wing Mak (HKG) - 11-6, 13-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7
Men's Singles (Quarter-finals)
 Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) Beat  Yuya Oshima (JPN)- 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 12-10
 Koki Niwa (JPN) Beat Tianyi Jiang (HKG) - 11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-8, 11-8
 Sharath Kamal Achanta (IND) Beat  Paul Drinkhall (ENG) - 11-4, 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11
 Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN) Beat  Robert Gardos (AUT) - 4-11, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6