A.Sharath Kamal, the flag-bearer of Indian table tennis, entered the round of 32 in men’s singles while India’s campaign in women’s singles ended on July 26 in Tokyo.
Sharath overcame stiff resistance from Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia to enter men’s singles third round. While 10th seed Sofia Polcanova of Austria proved too hot to handle for Manika Batra in the women’s third round, Sutirtha Mukherjee failed to put up any resistance against 32nd seed Fu Yu of Portugal.
Sharath, seeded 20th, used his power-packed backhand winners to precision while overpowering his Chennai teammate in the Ultimate Table Tennis league in six games. Sharath won 2-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9.
In the round of 32, Sharath will face defending Olympic and World champion Ma Long of China.
Later in the day, as Manika, a day after surprising 20th seed Margaryta Pesotska of Ukraine, took to the table, Sharath may have been in a bit of dilemma. After all, it was a clash between his partners for India and his Ultimate Table Tennis franchise.
Left-handed Polcanova gave an exhibition of how to negate the advantage that Manika derives from her long-pimpled rubber that he prefers to use on the backhand. For a majority of the first three games, Polcanova targetted Batra’s forehand and the European was far too superior and quick in the rally.
Despite getting her act together in the fourth set, Manika couldn’t snatch a set from her fancied opponent to go down 8-11, 2-11, 5-11, 7-11 in 27 minutes.
In the women’s second round, Mukherjee went down 3-11, 3-11, 5-11, 5-11 to the 42-year-old veteran of Chinese origin.