India's veteran paddler clinches maiden Challenger crown after beating Portugal's top seed Marcos Freitas 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 17-15 in finale
Ace Indian paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal ended his decade long wait for a title, producing a sensational performance to win the ITTF Challenger Plus Oman Open here on Sunday.
Despite being a game down, the Indian recovered well to outclass top seeded Marcos Freitas of Portugal 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 17-15 in the summit clash.
It was in 2010 when Sharath had bagged his last title at Egypt Open. Since then he made two semi-final appearances—Morocco Open in 2011 and India Open in 2017—but couldn't manage to get through it. This was Sharath's first Challenger event final.
Achanta Sharath Kamal receives the Oman Open trophy yesterday
Earlier in the semi-finals, Sharath pulled off a stunning come-from-behind victory against Russia's Kirill Skachkov. Fourth-seeded Sharath, 37, made a sensational comeback after being two games down to register 11-13, 11-13, 13-11, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7 win in a thrilling seven-set semi-final that lasted for one hour and eight minutes.
"Playing well here will help in getting better rankings and seedings especially keeping the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in mind. This time we had a lot of Indians participating here as all of us are looking for berth in Tokyo.
My performance here will be significant for me personally as well as I am bracing up for the Olympics and hope I can make it count," Sharath had said after his semi-final show.
Freitas meanwhile, had entered the final with a 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-3 win over India's Harmeet Desai. Desai dominated initially, but World No. 26 Freitas fought back well after being 1-3 down and went on to win the next three successive games to make his way into the final.
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