CWG table tennis: Soumyadeep, Sharath storm into semis

By Bharat Sharma, IANS,

New Delhi: India’s Soumyadeep Roy upset fancied Cai Xiaoli of Singapore while defending champion Achanta Sharath Kamal beat another Singaporean Ma Liang to enter the semi-finals of the men’s singles table tennis event at Commonwealth Games here Tuesday.

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It is the first time two Indians have qualified for the last four in the singles event since the sport was introduced in Manchester in 2002.

Roy, in the form of his life, produced another sparkling performance to beat the higher-ranked Cai 11-7, 5-11, 12-10, 11-5, 13-11 in the quarterfinals.

The 26-year-old had scored a a thrilling victory Monday, getting past Melbourne 2006 silver medallist William Henzell in the pre-quarterfinals.

Roy now faces top seed Gao Ning of Singapore, who beat India’s Amalraj Anthony 11-1, 4-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 in the first quarterfinal of the day.

“It was a tough match and all the Singapore players are ranked higher than me. In the past I have played a lot against Cai, so the experience helped me. I have also worked a lot on my fitness after the knee surgery and my game seems to be coming off well,” said Roy.

On the medal prospect, Roy said: “There is a possibility that that Sharath and I could be in the finals but sports can be cruel sometimes.”

Later in the day, Sharath Kamal came out to play his quarterfinal match and the packed crowd at the Yamuna Sports Complex got their money’s worth.

The backhands and forehand winners were flowing from Sharath Kamal’s bat as he beat 176th ranked Ma 11-7, 11-3, 11-7, 6-11, 11-6.

“I played really explosive today. I am pleased with the performance. The one game I lost was because of my wet t-shirt. I could not hold the bat properly. Another good thing was that I did not let my opponent settle and dictated terms from minute one,” said Sharath.

Sharath now faces Singapore No.2 Yang Zi for a place in the finals and a chance to defend his title that he won in Melboune 2006. And the Chennai based paddler has his task cut out as he lost to Yang the last time they played in March.

“Though I have lost to Yang last time but I am more comfortable playing him. Whatever happens we are assured of a bronze at least,” he said.

The good news came from the doubles event too as the duo of Sharath and Subhajit Saha alongside Poulomi Ghatak and Mouma Das entered the semifinals in both the men’s and the women’s section and kept the medal hopes alive. All the semifinal matches will be played Wednesday.