by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Sharath Kamal Achanta, now for more than a decade India’s leading player, emerged as the nation’s hero.
In a titanic struggle, not only the match of the day but arguably to date, the match of the year, he beat England’s Paul Drinkhall, the no.6 seed, in a contest that will live long in the memory. The no.11 seed, he emerged successful in seven games, the decider a classic (11-4, 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11).
Success for Sharath Kamal Achanta meant that he reversed the result when the two had met in the same city in the Men’s Team event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games; it was a very similar scenario for Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the top seed, who like the Indian star was involved in a thriller.
He beat Japan’s Yuya Oshima, the no.5 seed, in a seven games contest also determined by the minimal two point margin in the decider (7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 12-10) and thus reversed the fortunes of their one previous meeting in World ranking events.
On Friday 7th August they met in the first round of the Men’s Singles event at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour China Open in Chengdu; on that occasion, Yuya Oshima won in seven games, the decisive game not quite as dramatic in New Delhi (4-11, 14-12, 12-10, 9-11, 14-12, 10-12, 11-5). It was a tournament when Yuya Oshima was on fire; he reached the semi-final stage where he extended the redoubtable Ma Long the full distance before experiencing defeat (11-2, 11-7, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7).
Defeat for Yuya Oshima but there were two victories for Japan; Tomokazu Harimoto, still in his first year as a teenager caused an upset that on any other day would have hit the headlines; the no.14 seed, he overcame Austria’s Robert Gardos, the no.8 seed and at 38 years of age somewhat more experienced. Tomokazu Harimoto won in six games (4-11, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6).
Success for Tomokazu Harimoto, earlier in the match that had signalled the start of the Men’s Singles quarter-finals, there was success for colleague Koki Niwa; the no.3 seed, he ended the adventures of Hong Kong qualifier Jiang Tianyi (11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-8, 11-8).
At the semi-final stage Koki Niwa meets Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Sharath Kamal Achanta confronts Tomokazu Harimoto.