JAIPUR: Defending champion Sharath Kamal faces his toughest test yet in the singles semifinals against top-seed Gao Ning of Singapore in the 17th Commonwealth table tennis championships at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.
Sharath, seeded fourth, could really give the Indian Open champion a run for his money, if he plays the way he did against Cai Xiao Li of Singapore on Monday in the quarterfinals.
Seldom on the defensive, Sharath Kamal defeated Cai Xiao 11-9, 10-12, 11-3, 11-7, 11-4. With excellent footwork and top-spins of high quality, Sharath retrieved the situation even on the rare occasions when Li put Sharath on the defensive. In the head-to-head record, Sharath has lost only once to Li on seven occasions.
Was this his best in the championships? "No", said Sharath. "My best was the second stage match against William Henzell of Australia in the team championship."
But Sharath said "he played really well as he could feel my top-spins." "I adapted better to the conditions and I changed my service accordingly. You could have kept a coin on the table and I would have hit it correctly."
The last game time Gao Ning and Sharath met was at the Indian Open in February where the Singaporean emerged triumphant. Sharath said he needed to change a couple of things to get the better of the top-seed. "A lot of my style suits him. He plays close to the table. I have to put pressure on him."
Singapore's Yang Zi, the second seed, scraped through to the second round with a hard-fought win over Jubin Kumar. He overcame Seun Ajetunmobi of Nigeria in a thrilling match that went the distance.
Scotland's Gavin Rumgay then gave a torrid time to Zi in the quarterfinals. However, Zi won the deciding seventh game comfortably.
Three Indians-Soumyadeep Roy, Subhajit Saha and A. Amalraj lost in the pre-quarterfinals making Sharath the lone Indian remaining in the men's fray. William Henzell, the third seed from Australia, couldn't take a game off Nigeria's Kazeem Nasiru in the quarterfinals. Poulomi Ghatak and Mouma Das bowed out meekly in the quarterfinals, unable to take even one game.
In the men's doubles Subhajit Saha and Anirban Nandi entered the semifinals. Vishika Vijay and Sushmita Roy made it to the last four of the women's doubles.
The results (quarterfinals): Men: Gao Ning (Sin) bt Brad Zhilong Chen (Nzl) 11-9, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10; Sharath Kamal bt Cai Xiao Li (Sin) 11-9, 10-12, 11-3, 11-7, 11-4; Kazeem Nasiru (Ngr) bt William Henzell (Aus) 12-10, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9; Yang Zi (Sin) bt Gavin Rumgay (Sco) 10-12, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-2, 9-11, 11-2.
Women: Yue Gu Wang (Sin) bt Stephanie Xu Sang (Aus) 11-8, 11-6, 11-4, 11-4; Lee Wei Beh (Mas) bt Mouma Das 11-5, 11-6, 11-4, 11-5; Sun Bei Bei (Sin) bt Poulomi Ghatak 11-7, 11-4, 11-4, 11-9; Miao Miao (Aus) bt Mo Zhang (Can) 4-11, 2-11, 11-7, 11-9, 13-11, 11-6.