By Sports Reporter/Doha
Having come through the qualifications, India’s Achanta Sharath Kamal continued his rich vein of form to enter the second round of the 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open.
At the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah arena yesterday, Sharath Kamal caused one of the biggest upsets of the day as he upset Japan’s fifth seed Koki Niwa in five games (8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 14-12, 11-9) to reserve his place in the second round.
“I have never beaten him before, last year at the Asian Championships in the men’s team event I had three match points and lost. In the first game today I was ahead 8-5 and lost, in the second I was down 8-5 and won,” said the 35-year-old.
“Actually most games I was down and won. The only way for me to beat him was to use my power, take some risks. In rallies I had no chance against him. Also I tried to play slowly not too fast,” the Indian paddler added.
Sharath Kamal will next face fellow qualifier Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, who ended the challenge of Qatar’s Li Ping, the No.16 seed, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9, 5-11, 11-5. Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson and China’s Zhou Yu, who had come through two-day qualification, also moved into the next round. Karlsson overcame Frenchman Simon Gauzy, the No.8 seed 11-3, 11-8, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, while Zhou Yu ended the hopes of Egypt’s Omar Assar, the No.14 seed, 11-5, 13-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6.
Meanwhile, tournament favourites Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin imposed their authority on the proceedings. Top seed Zhendong beat Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura 11-9, 5-11, 11-3, 11-1, 13-11, while No. 4 seed got past Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia 13-15, 11-2, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4. In other matches, Japan’s Jun Mizutani beat German Patrick Franziska 5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-13, 11-5; while South Korea’s Lee Sangsu overcame Bastian Steger of Germany 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9.
In the women’s category, Liu Shiwen extracted her revenge over Zhu Yuling, after having lost to her in the final in Markham, Toronto at the 2017 ITTF Women’s World Cup six months ago.
Shiwen won the first round all-Chinese contest in Doha in six games yesterday 12-14, 11-5, 11-4, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5. “I had to play two matches to qualify so I was used to the atmosphere, accustomed to the arena. For Zhu Yuling, it was much different. It was her first match. I think she found it hard to adapt to the rhythm of the match,” said Shiwen after the victory.
“Both of us kept making changes in the match. After the fourth game when we were level, the direction of my play, my placement of the ball was better. In the past we have played so many seven-game matches, I was prepared for that again,” she added.
Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the No.8 seed, also avenged her loss to Romania’s Bernadette Szocs at the recent ITTF Team World Cup in London. I-Ching beat Szocs in Doha in five games 11-6, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5. “Today I was more patient than when I lost in London; also my head was clear today. I was one hundred per cent focused. I cannot really highlight specific points, maybe the fact that I received service well was important but really it was being strong mentally,” said I-Ching.
There were upsets in the opening round of the women’s singles events as well. Miyu Nagasaki beat Japanese compatriot Sakura Mori, the No.15 seed 11-13, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9, Japan’s Hitomi Sato used her defensive skills to good effect to defeat Chen Szu-Yu, the No.10 seed from Chinese Taipei, 11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 11-2, 11-7.
In other matches, Kasumi Ishikawa, the No.4 seed, beat Portugal’s Fu Yu 11-5, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4. Hina Hayata, the No.13 seed, overcame Singapore’s Zeng Jian 11-9, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4, while Miu Hirano, the No.7 seed, defeated China’s Chen Ke 13-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9. Chen Xingtong, the No.11 seed, halted the ambitions of colleague Zhang Rui 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 13-11, 11-4. The men’s and women’s second round matches will be played today.
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