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Muscat, March 15, 2020
Ace paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal pulled off a stunning come-from-behind victory against Russia’s Kirill Skachkov to enter the men’s singles final at the ITTF Challenger Plus Oman Open here on Sunday.
Fourth-seeded Sharath made a sensational comeback after being two games down to register an 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 berths 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,” said the elated Indian paddler following his semi-final win.
With this victory, the 37-year-old Indian veteran entered his first final at an ITTF event since winning the Egypt Open title in 2010. It is also the first Challenger event final for Sharath. He will now take on top-seeded Marcos Freitas of Portugal in the summit clash.
Freitas entered final with a 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-3 win over Harmeet Desai. India paddler Desai produced a gritty performance and was seen dominating the match at the initial stage.
However, World No. 26 Freitas fought back well after being 3-1 down and went on to win the next three successive games to make his way into the final. With a good performance here, the World No. 87 Desai is expected to make notable progress in the coming world rankings.