Sharath loses to Japanese prodigy in India Open semis




India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta tumbled out of the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open, capitulating to Japan’s thirteen-year-old sensation Tomokazu Horimoto here at the Thyagaraja Sradium on Saturday night.

Sharath, who survived two match points earlier in the day to outwit and outlast the tricky Paul Drinkhall of England in the quarterfinals, couldn’t unravel his fearless young opponent and lost 2-4 for a disappointing finish.

Harimoto Tomokazu celebrates his win

Harimoto Tomokazu of Japan waves to the crowd after win the game against Sharath Kamal Achanta of india during the men’s singles Semi 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 18th February 2017
Photo by: Arjun Singh / SPORTZPICS

Horimoto will now take on World No. 5 and top seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov for the singles title on Sunday night.

In the women’s singles, Matilda Ekholm of Sweden will clash with Sakura Mori of Japan for the crown. Ekholm got the better of top seed Hoi Kem Doo of Hong Kong 4-3 to earn a shot at the crown. Mori braved past Wing Nam NG in a seven-game duel to book her place in the final.

Sharath began sharply taking a quick 3-0 lead in the first game. But the young lad clawed back and eased into a 8-6 lead. He hustled away to win it 11-7.

The seven-time national champion jumped to a 4-0 lead in the second game too; he, however, didn’t let the advantage slip away this time, taking it 11-5. He couldn’t sustain the supremacy though, getting hoodwinked by Horimoto’s deceptive flicks. He lost 7-11 to realise that he couldn’t take his little opponent lightly.

But Sharath soon found himself trailing 4-5, 6-8 and down two game points as well. He changed tack at this stage, resorting to his backhand serve to subvert the Japanese’s backhand flick. It paid dividends as he ended up winning it 13-11 to tie two games all.

That was, however, the end of his fight. He lost the next two games almost tamely to squander the wonderful opportunity to enter the final.

Earlier in the evening, Sharath Kamal found himself locked in a 4-3 battle of wits and patience with Paul Drinkhall of England. He had to abandon his natural, attacking game and grapple for every point as Drinkhall slowed the pace of the contest by keeping the ball low and short while also loading it with devastating spin.

He began strongly but got ambushed by Drinkhall’s slow kill to go down 1-2 by the third game. He pulled the next two back, only to get unnerved by a determined opponent to let the contest go into the decider.

Sarath looked to get his forcing shots going, allowing Drinkhall to take a handy 8-5 lead. But he soaked the pressure and rallied to catch up. He had to avert two match points too before winning the gripping battle 13-11.

Ovtcharov got past two gritty and tricky Japanese players, Yuya Oshima in the quarterfinals and Koki Niwa in the semifinals to gain his place in the title round of the $150,000 tournament.

It was a mighty scare in the afternoon, forcing him to dig deep  against Oshima to avert two match points to win 4-3. The night match was equally taxing as the young Niwa kept pace with him till the first five games. But Ovtcharov continued attacking with his backhand flick and raced away to a 11-2 victory in the sixth and a comfortable 11-8 win in the decider.

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