Soumyadeep Roy is past his prime, his critics insist. His performance in the team event, perhaps, indicated as much. After the knee surgery two years ago, the Indian has been struggling to get back to his best form.
However, on Monday in the men's pre-quarterfinal match of the Commonwealth Games table tennis at the Yamuna Sports Complex here, Soumyadeep showed a glimpse of his fighting spirit as he scripted a 4-3 win over Australia's William Henzell, the last edition's finalist, and fourth seed.
“I am fit,” said Soumyadeep. “I haven't done this well in the CWG before. Of course, I was disappointed not playing the semifinal against England and the third place play-off match with Nigeria.
“I played only one match on the show court. It was a team management decision. And I went by it,” said Soumyadeep, who will meet Singapore's Cai Xiaoli next.
The match between rookie R. Abishek and England's Paul Drinkhall, the fifth seed, could have gone either way. Abishek ensured he kept his chops as low as possible making it difficult for Drinkhall to get it back for the rally.
And when Drinkhall put a short ball, Abishek either finished the point or put the ball back in play. But once Drinkhall took an 8-4 lead in the seventh and deciding game, there was no stopping him.
A. Amalraj found the spin of the Cypriot Marios Yiangou difficult, but attacked vigorously and relentlessly to win 4-3 and enter the quarterfinals. He faces Gao Ning, the top seed, next.
Ning, it seems, after a lacklustre show in the team event, is getting back to where he belongs. His 4-0 triumph over Andrew Baggaley said as much.
Crowd favourite and the defending singles champion, Sharath Kamal cruised to the quarterfinals with a 4-1 win over Scot Gavin Rumgay. Sharath will take on Ma Liang of Singapore.
In the women's section, none of the Indians managed to reach the quarterfinals. While K. Shamini, Poulomi Ghatak and Mamta Prabhu bowed out in the second round, Mouma Das, Madhurika Patkar lost in the last 16 clashes.
Of the lot, Madhurika impressed. The Indian tested the top seed of the championship, Tianwei Feng, by matching her in attack. She also kept the ball in play in long rallies and didn't hesitate to go for the kill.
Madhurika was in the contest in the deciding seventh game. Like all champions, Feng raised her level to win the contest.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games