Kamal cruises into India Open quarters

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Indian star Achanta Sharath Kamal thrashed Yuto Muramatsu of Japan to cruise into the quarter-finals of the India Open table tennis tournament here on Friday.

The 11th seeded Indian dominated from the start to script a 11-8, 11-7, 11-4, 14-16, 11-4 victory.

It was a cakewalk for top seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov as well as the world No. 5 from Germany eased into the men's singles quarter-finals with a comfortable 11-3, 11-3, 11-5, 11-4 victory over Portugal's Joao Geraldo.

Kamal built up a 6-3 lead before the fourth seeded Japanese rallied to equalise. But Kamal reeled off the points to take the first game quite comfortably.

The Chennai-born paddler hardly faced any resistance from the fourth seed in the next two games, winning them with ease but the Japanese staged a strong comeback in the next game.

Muramatsu enjoyed a strong start to the fourth game as he opened up a 5-2 lead. But the Indian fought back to take the lead at 6-5.

With Kamal enjoying a two-point lead, the Japanese did well to draw level at 9-9. It continued to a neck-and-neck affair before an unforced error by Kamal handed Muramatsu the lead at 15-14. The Japanese then outfoxed Kamal in the next rally to take the game.

Kamal then took the next game quite easily to clinch the match.

Earlier, Ovtcharov stamped his authority in style, crushing Abdulazil Al-Abbad of Saudi Arabia in the first round before brushing aside world No. 96 Joao Geraldo of Portugal in the pre-quarter-finals.

The four-time Olympic medallist was in red-hot form on the day and dictated terms from the word go against 21-year-old Geraldo.

Repeatedly outfoxing Geraldo with fiery returns and smashes, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist took just 15 minutes to outplay the Portuguese.

But it was a disappointing day for the hosts in the women's section.

Archana Kamath was the lone Indian girl to enter the pre-quarter-finals on the day. But she failed to progress to the last eight stage as she lost to Sakura Mori of Japan 11-3, 13-11, 5-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-4.

She had earlier defeated compatriot Ayhika Mukherjee 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 12-10, 12-10.

India coach Massimo Constantini was, however, happy with his ward's performance.

"It was good overall because they played with higher rated players. For their opponents today, it is a very regular thing to play a match where they have to make the top eight. But for our players, making the top eight is a big, exceptional event.

"So their opponents were calm and relaxed. They continued to do what they normally because they are used to such high pressure situations," he told IANS.

"I am pretty much happy with their performance. We still have a lot of work to do. This is my first tournament in charge after many years away from India. I got a good perspective from several players and that gives a good prospect for the future," he added.

"This was a very simple test for us. This is not the end of the world. We were up against good opponents and our players did their best. Most importantly, our players played with the right attitude and right spirit. Our execution was not so good because otherwise they would have won, but the performance was good overall."