Special Correspondent

  • Poulomi, and Nandita are seeded directly into the pre-quarterfinals
  • The under-21 singles will be held simultaneously

    NEW DELHI: Commonwealth Games champion A. Sharath Kamal will look to break into the world's top-100 by making the semifinals of the $25,000 Indian Open table tennis championship at the Indira Gandhi Stadium this weekend.

    Sharath, currently ranked 101, will hope to play above his seventh seeding to gain around 10 bonus points which would get him into the top-100 for the first time in his career.

    Placed in the bottom half of the draw, Sharath is drawn to play second seed Yang Zi of Singapore in the quarterfinals. Should Sharath win, his semifinal rival is likely to be third seeded Brazilian Thiago Monteiro.

    "I am in fine shape and pleased with my form," said the lanky Tamil Nadu player who is here after winning the Petroleum inter-unit singles title by stopping IndianOil teammate S. Raman in the final.

    High on confidence

    "I am looking forward to playing in front of the supporters of Indian table tennis and picking up some world ranking points. Among the seeds, barring Yang Zi and Cai Xiao Li (both from Singapore), I have not played anyone else. I defeated Yang in the Commonwealth Games but lost to him later in the World championship. Against Cai, I have a 5-1 record. So my confidence is pretty high. Should I cross the quarterfinals, I'll take it as a good result," said Sharath who opens his campaign on Friday afternoon.

    Barring Sharath, three other Indians, Soumyadeep Roy, National champion Subhajit Saha and Pathik Mehta are among the 16 seeded to the round of 32.

    From the league phase on Thursday, 11 group toppers and five lucky losers will join the seeds. Eight Indians are part of the league.

    For the first time, the International Table Tennis Federation's Pro Tour event is being staged in India. As the prize-money on offer is not high due to the lack of a title-sponsor, China, Korea and Chinese Taipei have stayed away. With a lone Japanese girl in the fray, Singapore is the favourite to take away the singles titles. The doubles and under-21 singles will also be held simultaneously.

    Meanwhile, there is uncertainty over the arrival of players from Ghana seven men and two women. In case of a no-show, the league phase will end much earlier than scheduled.

    Among the ladies, Poulomi Ghatak, Mouma Das and Nandita Saha are seeded directly into the pre-quarterfinals. Poulomi and Mouma are seeded to meet in the semifinals but it looks highly unlikely. The duo is expected to play seeded Singapore players in the quarterfinals. Should Nandita win her first match, she will face top seed Sun Bei Bei.

    The top ranked players: Men: 1. Gao Ning (Sin, 31), 2. Yang Zi (Sin, 34), 3. Roko Tosic (HRV, 92), 4. Thiago Monteiro (Bra, 94), 5. A. Sharath Kamal (Ind, 101), 6. Cai Xiao Li (Sin, 154), 7. Ma Liang (Sin, 207), 8. Soumyadeep Roy (Ind, 269).

    Women: 1. Sun Bei Bei (Sin, 37), 2. Yu Meng Yu (Sin, 74), 3. Yuki Nonaka (Jpn, 206), 4. Poulomi Ghatak (Ind, 226), 5. Mouma Das (Ind, 235), 6. Su Yue (Sin, 240), 7. Ma Ming Lu (Sin, 306), 8. Nandita Saha (Ind, 313).

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