Indian table tennis ace Achanta Sharath Kamal won the ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open in Muscat on Sunday after a convincing win over Portuguese paddler and top-seed Marcos Freitas in the final.
Sharath Kamal bagged the title with a scoreline of 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 17-15 only hours after he qualified for the final after a come-from-behind victory in the semi-final against Russian Kirill Skachkov.
"Playing well here will help in getting better rankings and seedings especially keeping the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in mind," Kamal, seeded fourth in the Oman Open, told the media earlier in the day. "This time we had a lot of Indians participating here as all of us are looking for a berth in Tokyo.
"My performance here will be significant for me personally as well as I am bracing up for the Olympics and hope I can make it count."
Marcos Freitas had reached the final after he had got the better of the other Indian paddler, Harmeet Desai, playing on the day in the semi-final.
Sharath Kamal Achanta upstages Marcos Freitas in the final
World no. 38 Achanta Sharath Kamal began the Oman Open final with five swift points but Marcos Freitas, ranked 26th, soon found his rhythm and got six consecutive points to win the opening game.
Game two saw the tables turn with Marcos Freitas starting well before Achanta Sharath Kamal got back into it with four successive points to eventually win 11-8.
The subsequent two games were much tighter with Sharath Kamal Achanta edging it 12-10 and 11-9 to go within a game of winning the Oman Open.
Marcos Freitas won the fifth game convincingly 11-3 but couldn’t quite take the final into a deciding seventh game.
Despite Marcos Freitas’ best efforts, Achanta Sharath Kamal held his nerve and won a marathon sixth game 17-15 to clinch the Oman Open.
Sharath Kamal Achanta ousts Kirill Skachkov in semis
The veteran Indian paddler started well as he raced into a 4-1 lead in the first game but went on to lose it in the end. Achanta Sharath Kamal lost the second game as well despite saving four game-points in it.
However, the tide turned in favour of Achanta Sharath Kamal in the third game even though he was trailing 5-7 at one stage. That turned the momentum around as the Indian paddler won two successive games after that.
The one hour eight minute-match eventually went into the decider with the Indian table tennis player managing to hold his nerve and seal a place in his first ITTF final since the 2010 Egypt Open.
Harmeet Desai goes down fighting in the semis
World no. 87 in men’s singles Harmeet Desai, meanwhile, made a solid start to his semi-final match against Marcos Freitas leading 3-1 at one stage before the paddler from Portugal turned it around to win 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-5.
The Indian table tennis star was closing in on a victory when he was leading 6-4 in the fifth game but Marcos Freitas had other ideas.
The Portuguese paddler battled his way back into the match after winning three consecutive points in the fifth game to get his nose in front.
After a tight sixth game that included a long rally for the final point, Harmeet Desai ran out of steam in the decider.
The final game of the semi-final saw Harmeet Desai struggle to find his rhythm, going down 5-11 and surrendering his right to appear in the final.