India's Achanta Sharath Kamal crashed out of the 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open, going down to Japan's thirteen-year-old sensation Tomokazu Horimoto at the Thyagaraj Stadium 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, failed to get the better of his young opponent and lost 11-7, 5-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9 for a disappointing end to his impressive run in the tournament. Horimoto will now take on World No. 5 and top seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov for the singles title on Sunday night.
Sharath began sharply taking a quick 3-0 lead in the first game. But Horimoto clawed his way back to take a 8-6 lead and finally won the game 11-7.
Sharath knew he had to slow things down to make a match of it. The Indian did just that and with more accuracy in his drives, took an 8-2 lead in the second game before levelling the match.
A similar pattern followed in the next two games with Harimoto on an all out attack and Sharath trying to find a way to contain him so that he could play his own game. The crowd favourite seemed down and out in the fourth at 8-10 but found a way to equal the match once again.
In the fifth, Kamal made far too many unforced errors before he netted a backhand serve on 9-10. The sixth game too was fiercely fought but Harimoto just proved too good in the end.
Earlier in the evening, Sharath Kamal found himself locked in a 4-3 battle of wits and patience against Paul Drinkhall of England. He had to abandon his natural, attacking game and fight for every point as Drinkhall slowed the pace of the contest by keeping the ball low and short.
He began strongly but went 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.
Meanwhile, 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 USD 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.
In the women's singles event, Matilda Ekholm of Sweden will take on Sakura Mori of Japan for the title. Ekholm got the better of top seed Hoi Kem Doo of Hong Kong 4-3 to earn a shot at the crown. Mori outlasted Wing Nam NG in a seven-game duel to book her place in the final.
(With PTI Inputs)