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Sharath, Amalraj hit form to grab top perch



DOHA, May 10: Achanta Sharath Kamal hit a great form and dismissed his English opponent Andrew Baggaley 12-10, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 in double quick time to grab the top perch in group 7 at the World Olympic Qualification Championships here this evening. Earlier, he had beaten Jan Zibrat of Slovaia 4-2 (6-11, 11-6, 11-6, 5-11, 11-4, 11-6).

With just a match against Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenkno on Friday, Sharath Kamal should, in all probability, retain his No.1 position in the group.

Anthony Amalraj, who began his campaign in a style against world No. 49 Emmanuel Lebesson of France by winning 4-1, continued in the same vein to beat Maldova’s Vladislav Sorbalo in straight games of 11-7, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 to lead his group 2. He has a match against Hong Kong’s Wu Chi Chi tomorrow evening and should he win it, he would top the group.

Nevertheless, the two men paddlers have assured themselves of a place each in stage 2 and the way the two played today showed their determination to prove a point.

Taking the cue from the junior player, Sharath Kamal came into his attacking grove in the match against Baggaley as the Indian paddler played some superb attacking shots. The Englishman was often caught on the wrong foot with the Indian simply running him over.

Amalraj confessed that his 11-4, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 over the French in the day’s first match had given the confidence to go all out against Sorbalo. Asked about his chances against Taipei’s Wu Chi Chi, Amalraj said he is not thinking about that match immediately. “I will continue to play the attacking game. He is, no doubt, a good player but I am confident of beating him,” he said.

It was a mixed luck for the two women players as the No. 225 ranked Poulomi Ghatak played a superb match to defeat world No. 85 Russian Oxana Fedeeva 4-2 (11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-13, 11-5). The win should do her confidence a world of good and she stands a good chance of not only making it to the second stage but also topping group 5. The only hurdle on her way could be the Netherland’s Elena Timina, who is ranked 121.    

The only aberration on the opening day was Kumaresan Shamini’s loss to worl No. 93 Gabriala Feher from Serbia. Shamini had her match sewn up, but a strategic timeout when leading at 7-1 in the crucial seventh game dashed her hopes. Shamini eventually lost 3-4 (11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 13-15, 11-9, 11-13, 11-9) making her task further difficult in group 8.

Ghatak employed lot of top spins against her Russian opponent. “I saw her struggling against spin both while receiving and returning. So I used it a lot and it worked my way,” said a beaming Ghatak on her strategy.

Coach Bhawani Mukherjee expressed happiness over the way both Sharath Kamal and Amalraj played today. “The form they are in, they should head their groups because that will help them in the next stage. But with two wins, they have already ensured a place in the second round,” he said.

He also praised Ghatak for showing great promise against the Russian. “Poulomi’s top spins were so good with little answer from the world No. 85,” said Mukherjee. Ghatak is scheduled to take on Qatari Noora Al-Abri while her compatriot Aia Mhamed will meet Shamini and in late night matches today.