Ovtcharov, Mori are India Open champs




Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov brought the dream run of Japan’s 13-year-old sensation Tomokazu Harimoto to an abrupt end to capture the men’s singles title in the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open here at the Thyagaraja Sports Complex on Sunday.

Top seeded Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany wins the first ever Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open

Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany celebrates his win during the Men’s singles Final match held as part of the of the 2017 ITTF WORLD TOUR India held at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex stadium in New Delhi India on the 19th February 2017
Photo by: Vipin Pawar / SPORTZPICS

The top seeded World No. 5, a medal winner in the last three Olympic Games, romped to a 11-6, 11-8, 11-4,14-12 victory to pocket the winner’s prize money of $18,000 in this prestigious $150,000 tournament.

Harimoto, who beat India’s Achanta Sharath Kamal in the semifinals on Saturday night, however, had the satisfaction of seeing his compatriot Sakura Mori complete a grand double, adding the women’s singles title to her under-21 crown that she won earlier during the week.

Sakura Mori of Japan in action during the Women singles Final match held as part of the of the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open

Sakura Mori of Japan in action during the Women singles Final match held as part of the of the 2017 ITTF WORLD TOUR India held at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex stadium in New Delhi India on the 19th February 2017
Photo by: Vipin Pawar / SPORTZPICS

The Ukrainian born Ovtcharov just didn’t allow the Japanese kid to play his attacking game, mixing his serves and attacking ferociously with his forehand. He won the first three games in no time even as Harimoto desperately tried to get his deceptive backhands going.

In the fourth game, Harimoto put up a fight, taking the lead (3-1) for the first time in the contest. But he soon learnt that Ovtcharov was in a different league, as he slipped to 4-5.

Earlier, the sixth seeded Mori, ranked No. 37 in the world, came back from a game down to claim the crown 4-3 (7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 12-10, 6-11, 8-11, 11-6) in a fitting finish to the $150,000 tournament. It was her first World Tour title.

Interestingly, 34-year old Matilda Ekholm also was on the cusp of a double, after pocketing the doubles crown in the company of her Hungarian partner Georgina Pota just an hour earlier. She and Pota toppled the top seeded pair of Hoi Kem Doo and Ho Ching Lee from Hong Kong in a five-game thriller 9-11, 11-3, 5-11, 14-12, 11-8.

Ekholm claimed the first game 11-7 even before Mori got into her groove. But once the Japanese player started firing her forehand top spins, she couldn’t find the strokes to counter her.

She lost the next two games comprehensively 3-11, 5-11 to almost turn it into a one-sided affair. But then, she retrieved some resilience from her repertoire and fought all the way to the wire in the fourth game. She had a couple of opportunities to regain ground but failed to capitalise on them and lost 12-14.

That, however, gave her the confidence to take on her 21-year-old opponent in an attacking vein. She used her forehand smashes a lot more diligently to win the next two games 11-6, 11-8 to take the contest to the decider.

The seventh game, sadly, turned out to be an anti-climax. Ekholm committed one mistake after another to quickly go down 0-5. It turned to 2-9 to turn and even though clawed her way back to 5-9, it was just a matter of time after that.

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