Indian paddler Sharath Kamal caused a big upset at the WTT Star Contender tournament by knocking out the World No. 16 Patrick Franziska in Doha on Tuesday. The former Commonwealth Games gold medallist edged the German 3-2 (12-10, 3-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9) to enter the pre-quarterfinals.
But it was curtains for G Sathiyan and Manika Batra, as they both lost their respective WTT Star Contender singles matches. While Batra went down to Japanese Mima Ito, Sathiyan succumbed to top seed Tomokazu Harimoto.
The World No. 32 Kamal, who last met Franziska in the 2018 World Tour, started the match on a good note with a hard-fought 12-10 win in the first game. The German regained his form to bag the next one 11-3 before Kamal took the lead again by winning the third 11-7.
But Franziska was not in the mood to let go of the match easily. The 28-year-old, who plies his trade in the German Bundesliga, won the fourth game 11-7 to force a decider. He put up a fight in the final game too, but it was the Indian star who kept his composure to eke out an 11-9 victory.
Kamal will face either Ahmed Sale or Dimitrij Ovtcharov in his quest for a spot in the quarters of the WTT Star Contender.
Sathiyan lost to Harimoto for the third time in four meetings
Harimoto has become a nemesis for World No. 37 Sathiyan as he won his third duel against the Indian in four meetings. The top seed dominated the proceedings from the start, giving no room to his opponent.
Sathiyan, who made a stunning comeback against his French opponent in the previous round, lost the first game meekly, 4-11. The story was similar in the next two games as the Indian failed to find his best strokes, losing 5-11 and 8-11 respectively.
The last time these two paddlers met was in the 2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open in Budapest, where the Japanese won 4-0. Harimoto will play the winner of the match between Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri and Masataka Morizono of Japan.
In the WTT Star Contender women’s category, Batra was no match for World No. 3 Ito, losing 7-11, 6-11, 7-11. Ito will next face either Satsuki Odo or Lily Zhang.
Earlier, a host of Indian paddlers had failed to get past the qualifying stages. Kamal, Batra, and Sathiyan were the only Indians to be given a direct entry into the WTT Star Contender.
With the Asian qualifiers for the 2021 Olympics coming up, the WTT Star Contender provides a great platform for Kamal to fine-tune his skills as he attempts to secure a Tokyo berth.