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Table Tennis

Following Manika, Sharath Kamal advances to third round of Tokyo Olympics

Beginning on a strong note, veteran table tennis player Sharath Kamal becomes second Indian paddler to enter Round 3 at the Tokyo Olympics.

Sharath Kamal at Tokyo 2020

Sharath Kamal creates history at Tokyo Olympics (Source Getty Images)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 26 July 2021 7:57 AM GMT

World No. 32 and 20th seed, Achanta Sharath Kamal kept Indian's medal hopes alive in table tennis as he saw off the challenge of World No. 59, Tiago Apolonia to advance to the 3rd round of the Men's Singles category winning the match, 2-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6,11-9 in 49 minutes.

The paddler's start to the Tokyo Olympics was a sour one, as he along with Manika Batra, the 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist pair, lost in the round of 16 of the Mixed Doubles to the World No. 1 Chinese Taipei duo of Ju Yun Lin and Ching I Cheng.

The Padma Shri awardee had previously faced the Portuguese thrice with the latter having a 2-1 advantage in their head to head.

The Portuguese took the first game, 11-2 lead with Sharath struggling to neither hold on to his serve nor claim a point on his opponent's serve. As the story has been so far since yesterday, the Indians had been really slow off the starting block losing the first game.

Sharath came roaring back in the second game racing to a 5-0 lead before the 1st towel break going in favour of the Indian, 5-1. The Portuguese made a comeback of some sort making the scoreline, 10-8 with the game point belonging to the Indian, eventually taking the second game 11-8.

The third game was off to a brilliant start with Sharath playing an unbelievable backhand down the line to open his account in the game. The scoreline was a replica of the second game at the first towel break, 5-1.

Sharath finally seemed to be feeling at home, when he took a 8-2 lead and was leading 9-3 at the second towel break. Sharath after arriving here at Tokyo had mentioned about being at his best in terms of fitness and his preparation had been the best he's ever had for the Games. The Indian wrapped up the 3rd game, 11-5.

Sharath took off the fourth game from where he had left in the third game. He led 7-5 at the second towel break and looked set to take the 4th game and a 3-1 lead in the match. Tiago was using the "Banana flick" to his advantage and came from behind to take a lead of 9-7. The Portuguese eventually closed the game, 11-9.

The fifth game began with Sharath taking a 4-2 lead at the first towel break. The Indian seemed to be staying back which he generally loves doing and that was proving to be a good decision for him as Tiago made a lot of errors on the forehand.

Short-stroke, forehand, down the line, something we had been seeing from Sharath in this match and it was as beautiful as Roger Federer's forehand down the line in Tennis. The Indian had a 5 game point in his hands before closing the sixth game, 11-6 and taking a 3-2 lead in the match with just one game away from becoming the first Indian paddler to reach the round three at the Olympics.

The highlight package from this game would definitely feature Sharath's backhand which was as silky as it could get. The 39 year old shifted gears and turned it up a notch as he became the first male Indian paddler to reach the 3rd round at the Olympics. He closed the match with a 11-9 win in the sixth game and sealed the deal for India.

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