Sharath Kamal outwitted by Austrian Chen Weixing (Lead)

August 20th, 2008 - 4:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 20 (IANS) India’s table tennis champion Achanta Sharath Kamal lost a match lot closer than the 1-4 scoreline suggests against Chinese-born Austrian Chen Weixing in the Olympics men’s singles second round here Wednesday. Sharath Kamal lost two games failing to clinch game points and that paved the way for Chen to win 11-5, 14-12, 11-2, 8-11, 10-12 in 32 minutes to bring the curtain down on Indian table tennis participation at the mega event.

The loss of the second game after saving a game point and moving to 12-11 was despairing for Sharath Kamal who looked like going down in straight games when he could muster only two points in the third game at the Peking University Gymnasium

He just could not unleash his forehand as effectively as the Austrian did.

The Indian, however, fought back to take the fourth game changing strategy by pinning the Austrian to his backhand and cramping him on his forehand flank. He hit fluently on either flank and looked like getting into a rhythm.

Sharath Kamal looked down and out when he trailed 6-9 in the fifth game, but in a last-ditch effort levelled the scores and even got to to game point taking four points in a row with unretrievable serves. As the Austrian took chances by attacking, Sharath Kamal netted a forehand and finally a backhand flick failed to clear the net for him to lose the game and the match.

“I could do nothing against him,” a dejected Sharath said. “My forehand is my strength but that was not working well. Besides, I erred on crucial points and had no chance.”

“After I lost the third game I was disturbed and I needed to calm down and pull myself together, but I really don’t know what happened. I just could not execute my plans. Nothing really worked against him.

“I was erratic in the beginning and faltered in the second game when I needed to hold my nerve. In the fourth, I tried to crawl back into the match but fluffed things trying to play on to his body,” said the Commonwealth Games double gold medallist

If only the Chennai-based Indian Oil executive had been consistent with his forehand, he could have even take the match to a decider. Like he did with his roommate from Madrid in the previous round, Sharath Kamal employed his tricky short service with the ball spinning away from the Austrian only in the closing stages of the fifth game when he was down 8-9 to move to game point.

Sharath Kamal, who had lost the only previous meeting with Chen at the Austrian Open, was up against a clever customer whose defence, too, was tight. In the fourth and fifth games, Chen wriggled out of tight corners with his dogged defence to blunt the Indian’s flashy forehand.

Sharath Kamal, who is trying his best to get into the top 50 in the world, is stuck in the 70s, and he will be back to his Madrid base to continue playing in the Spanish league.

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