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Ghosh wins Chile Open singles gold; takes doubles gold with Amalraj




New Delhi, May 1:  Top-seeded Soumyajit Ghosh added silverware to his collection of honours when he beat compatriot Anthony Amalraj 4-2 (8-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-9, 4-11, 11-7) in the men’s singles final at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF Challenge Chile Open in Santiago last night.


This success for Ghosh has meant that he became the third Indian to win a men’s singles title at an ITTF Challenge Series or ITTF World Tour tournament while Amalraj became the fourth Indian to reach such a final.


Sharath Kamal was runner-up in 2007 at New Delhi, losing to Singapore’s Gao Ning in the final; three years the top-ranked Indian in the world had won in Egypt overcoming Hong Kong’s Li Ching in the title c lash. At the 2016 ITTF World Tour Belgian Open, G. Sathiyan struck gold in de Haan when he accounted for host nation’s Cédric Nuythinck to claim the top prize.


In fact, the No.3 seed Amalraj made a better start to the final proceedings winning the opening game but lost a close second which helped the momentum swung towards his adversary. Undoubtedly the second game was crucial. But Amalraj had another chance coming his way in the fourth which, like the second, he could have turned to his advantage.



Soumyajit Ghosh on top of podium at Chile Open, Santiago and (R) Anthony Amalraj who finished runner-up


But, when trailing 8-9 in the fourth, Amalraj opted for time-out and even managed to win the next point to level score only to let the opportunity slip by. Yet to Amalraj’s credit, he won the fifth game being the more consistent player but in the sixth Ghosh emerged on top, all guns blazing.


Attacking quickly from the backhand and staying close to the table, Ghosh won the opening four points. Amalraj secured the next two. Soon confusion followed and Ghosh, who was awarded the next point, advised the umpire that the ball had hit his shirt and in true sporting spirit.  With the score at 4-3 in favour of Ghosh, a determined Amalraj attacked well to recover and level 7-all. But that was all he could do as the next four points went Ghosh’s way and with that the title was secured.


“I had to start the sixth game aggressively because I kept thinking about my first big international title. It was hard to win against Amalraj. It took some time to adapt to the ball, harder than the one we used before enabling more power but less spin,” said Ghosh


“Now I’m the third to win such a tournament. I’m really happy. But being the top seed, I felt the pressure all though,” added a beaming Ghosh.



Ghosh in action against Amalraj in single's final




Earlier, both the Anthony Amalraj and Soumyajit Ghosh combined brilliantly to win the men’s doubles title at the Santiago event, when the Indian duo accounted for the Bulgarian combine of Philipp Floritz and Romania’s Hunor Szocs 4-0 (13-11, 10-12, 14-12, 11-9).


As anticipated, all four games were close but arguably the third proved to be the most vital as it gave the Indians the cutting edge advantage in the contest.



In the fourth game, with the India pair leading 3-0, Floritz signalled for time out and the Europeans gained to some extent when they levelled 7-7 with the next four points being shared. At 10-9, it was match point to Amalraj and an opportunity for Ghosh to shut the shop. And, luckily, a forehand from Floritz flew long and the Indians rejoiced.


It is pertinent to note that for the first time India had won a men’s doubles title on either the ITTF Challenge Series or ITTF World Tour.“This is big for us. It’s the first time we have won such a title and a first for India, too,” aid an elated Ghosh


Twice before, on the ITTF World Tour at Indore in 2009, Sharath Kamal and Subhajit Saha had experienced defeat in the final when the pair had lost to Singapore’s Gao Ning and Yang Zi. More recently in Tweeds Heads, Australia, Soumyajit Ghosh in partnership with Harmeet Desai had lost to Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Lam Siu Hang in the title contest.


Amarlraj put it more aptly. “For me, it was the first final and first gold. In more than 10 years of my international career, it has always been China, Japan or Germany. Now that India has won, it is good for the future of table tennis in India,” said Amalraj.



Amalraj about to return to Ghosh in singles's final.