Event Section
Sharath disappoints; Harmeet, Manika progress


Ahmedabad, September 15: It was a disappointing beginning for A. Sharath Kamal as he went down to Korean Lee Sangsu 3-0 (11-5, 11-7, 11-9) in group C opening league match, but Harmeet Desai and Manika Batra, both placed in bottom group, kept Indian hopes alive somewhat in the ITTF-ATTF 30th Asian Cup at the TransStadia here today.


The Korean proved too hot for Sharath to handle as the ninth-seeded Indian had no answers to the fifth seed. He kept using the backhand drives forcefully down the line and clever forehands to the far left off Sharath. There was an occasion when Sharth led briefly in the second game when power interruption broke his rhythm and the Korean was back in business as he shut out the Indian rather easily.



Next in Sharath’s line of attack will be Lin Gaoyuan, followed by Japanese Jun Mizutani in the third round that will decide the Indian’s fate. In his first round Mizutani had a narrow escape before beating Chinese Lin Gaoyuan 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 after being 0-2 down.  Emulating his teammate was Koki Niwa who beat Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit 11-8, 10-12, 11-3, 14-16, 11-4 in group A.


Harmeet, however, brought some early cheers when he outplayed Abdulaziz Al-Abbad 3-0 (11-6, 12-10, 11-7). Harmeet, who had fever two days before, seemed to have recovered well when he took on his Saudi rival. The latter did try to recover a bit in the second game and even managed to stretch Harmeet, but beyond that he could not stop the Indian.



Manika shook off her early troubles to beat Qatari Aia Mohamed 3-0 (13-11, 11-8, 11-7) in group D. The slow start to their league match saw the players cautious in their approach with leading changing hands regularly. After deuce, Manika missed one game point but won it on the second. From there, she never looked back as the former national champion the next two games easily.


But the story of the morning session was Taipei’s Chen Chen-An who upset top-seed Chinese Fan Zhendong in men singles in group A. The No. 9 seed, who had surprised then Olympic champion Zhang Jike a few years ago, outsmarted Fan. The Chinese had made a fine recovery and went up 8-5. But he let Chen-An claw his way back and level at 8-8. A service error saw the Taipei paddler go 9-8 up and from there the match was going only one way as Chen-An won 13-11, 11-7, 6-11, 9-11, 11-8.


Similarly, there was yet another upset when Chen Szu-Yu of Taipei shocked Feng Tianwei of Singapore 3-2 in a see-saw women singles battle. Feng, who is no stranger to India, was at Jaipur two years ago and had a top-of-the-podium finish beating Liu.


In other matches, Japanese Kasumi Ishikawa struggled to overcome Sun Hyowon of Korea 3-2 in a group C thriller while Liu Shiwen and Zhu Ling won their respective group matches. Miu Hirano of Japan and Cheng I-Ching of Taipei, too, began on a positive note to beat their rivals from Singapore and Hong Kong, respectively, in group A and B.


Coming back to men singles, eighth seeded Korean Jeong Sangeun accounted for No. 2 seed from Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting 15-17, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 even as Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan won over Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan 4-11, 14-12, 11-3, 11-7.





Men (1st Round):


Group A: Chen Chien-An (Tpe) bt Fan Zhendong (Chn) 3-2, Koki Niwa (Jpn) bt Ho Kwan Kit (Hkg) 3-2.


Group B: Jeong Sangeun (Kor) bt Wong Chun Ting (Hkg) 3-1, Chuang Chih-Yuan (Tpe) bt Noshad Alamiyan (Iran) 3-1.


Group C: Jun Mizutani (Jpn) bt Lin Gaoyuan (Chn) 3-2, Lee Sangsu (Kor) bt A. Sharath Kamal (Ind) 3-0.


Group D: Nima Alamian (Iran) bt Padasak Tanviriyavechakul (Tha) 3-2, Harmeet Desai (Ind) bt Abdulaziz Al-Abbad (Saudi) 3-0.


Women (1st Round):


Group A: Zhu Ling (Chn) bt Do Hoi Kem (Hkg) 3-0, Miu Hirano (Jpn) bt Yu Mengyu (Sgp) 3-1.


Group B: Liu Shiwen (Chn) bt Yang Haeum (Kor) 3-0, Cheng I-Ching (Tpe) bt Lee Ho Ching (Hkg) 3-1.


Group C: Kasumi Ishikawa (Jpn) Suh Hyowon (Kor) 3-2, Chen Szu-Yu (Tpe) bt Feng Tianwei (Sgp) 3-2.


Group DManika Batra (Ind) bt Aia Mohamed (Qat) 3-0 (13-11, 11-8, 11-7), Suthasini Sawettabut (Tha) 3-0.