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Indian table tennis legend Achanta Sharath Kamal had double delight as he reached the quarter-finals of both men's doubles and mixed doubles at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open held at the Olympic Hall in Budapest on Thursday.
The former Commonwealth Games gold medallist showed tremendous grit and resolve as he partnered Manika Batra to a marathon 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 victory over home hope Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel that took 43 minutes to complete. Later the 37-year-old returned in men's doubles alongside Gnanasekaran Sathiyan to register yet another hard-fought 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9 win against Japan's rising stars, Shunsuke Togami and Yukiya Uda.
Sharath Kamal and Batra showed glimpses of the fighting spirit and resilience that took them to a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games. Buoyed by the home support, the Hungarian pair took a two-game lead but that could not deter the Indians, who stormed their way back to win the next two games. In their quest for a semi-final berth, the Indians have a tough challenge in the form of Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito. With Ito being at a career-high world ranking of No. 3 and Mizutani being No. 15, the Indians cannot afford to make any mistake against the much-fancied pair.
In men’s doubles, Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan, who had earlier qualified for the main draw, have a relatively easier path with Hungary’s World No. 132 Szudi and World No. 142 Nandor Ecseki next up for them.
It wasn’t, however, a flawless day for Indian paddlers as Harmeet Desai and Manav Vikash Thakkar went down fighting 11-13, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6, 2-11 to Hong Kong’s Hang Siu Lam and Nam Pak NG.
With their sights set on Tokyo Olympics qualification, India’s top paddlers have participated in this ITTF World Tour event in search of valuable ranking points and high-level match play.