Sharath Kamal Stars as Chennai Lions Beat Goa Challengers to Enter Ultimate Table Tennis Final
Achanta Sharath Kamal (Photo Credit: Ultimate Table Tennis)
New Delhi: An explosive display from Sharath Kamal revived Chennai Lions' semi-final day on Saturday as he earned himself and his team a date with Dabang Delhi TTC in the final of the Ultimate Table Tennis 2019 with a 8-7 win over Goa Challengers.
India's top star Sharath, looking positive and confident in his trademark bandana despite his team's 1-5 deficit, collected three points with Germany's Petrissa Solja in the Mixed Doubles and returned to win two more against Amalraj Anthony in a tense reverse Men's Singles.
That set the stage for two young ladies from India, Madhurika Patkar and Archana Kamath, to step into the spotlight. Needing two points from the last tie, both went for broke and produced yet another exhilarating finish in the semi-finals.
Madhurika easily lost the first set 6-11 but showed remarkable poise and confidence to spurt to a 9-1 lead in the second. But Archana clawed back to 6-9 before fading away. In the decider too, Madhurika looked set for an easy win at 9-5 and 10-6. But Archana saved four match points to take this semi-final to a golden point. It, however, proved to be Madhurika's day, who forced Archana into a mistake, taking Chennai Lions into the final.
In the opening Women's Singles, Taiwan's Cheng I-Ching brought her A game to the table, coming back twice from behind to overpower Germany's Petrissa Solja 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 for a 3-0 early lead for Goa.
Petrissa, placed 24th in world rankings, raced ahead in the first set and again in the third, but Cheng drew upon her experience to negate the advantage on both occasions. Cheng launched a strong comeback and displayed some exquisite shots en route to her crucial win.
In the men's singles, Goa's Alvaro Robles (No. 84) took the first set from a higher-ranked Tiago Apolonia (No. 71) on the golden point. Apolonia fought back in the second to register Chennai's first point. The third proved to be a visual delight, with Tiago attacking vigorously and Alvaro defending gamely.
Alvaro was in the zone, simply retrieving everything and unnerving Tiago. The Portuguese wilted under the pressure and lost the third 3-11 to give Goa a massive 5-1 advantage.
Sharath entered the fray at this stage, and riding on his potent forehand, turned the tie around. He and Petrissa won the first two sets of the Mixed Doubles comfortably 11-5, 11-4.
.@SharathKamal1 & Petrissa Solja proved to be a dominant force as they registered a commanding 3⃣-0⃣ win over @TTChallengers! Catch the highlights #LevelAlagHai #CHEvGOA | @chennailionsttc pic.twitter.com/NV1OmhAivn— Ultimate TableTennis (@UltTableTennis) August 10, 2019
The third one was tense as Amalraj Anthony-Cheng I-Ching got their act together. The scores moved mostly on serve, all the way till 8-8 before Sharath orchestrated the next 3 points.
In the reverse Men's Singles, a charged up Amalraj broke away from Sharath at 4-4 and pocketed the first set 11-5. Sharath came into his own in the second, moving to a 6-3 advantage quickly. He capitalised on that to take a crucial point for his side.
The third set was a humdinger, with the match fluctuating from one team to the other. Sharath took a handy 4-1 lead but a series of mistakes saw Amalraj jump ahead 6-4. He inched away to 9-8 before Sharath cooled down to whip out three straight winners.
Women's Singles: Petrissa Solja lost to Cheng I-Ching 0-3 (7-11, 9-11, 8-11)
Men's Singles: Tiago Apolonia lost to Alvaro Robles 1-2 (10-11, 11-6, 3-11)
Mixed Doubles: Sharath Kamal/Petrissa Solja beat Amalraj Anthony/Cheng I-Ching 3-0 (11-5, 11-4, 11-8)
Men's Singles: Sharath Kamal beat Amalraj Anthony 2-1 (5-11, 11-9, 11-10)
Women's Singles: Madhurika Patkar beat Archana Kamath 2-1 (6-11, 11-8, 11-10)