The pandemic of COVID-19 coronavirus may have caused major hampering in the world of sports and the sportspersons, but veteran Indian table tennis star Sharath Kamal is on a different plane. The nine times Senior National Champion not only fought through the risk of a positive infection from the virus, but also produced a spectacular performance at the ITTF Challenger Plus Oman Open. Kamal remarkably lifted the title on Sunday, putting an end to his decade long wait to clinch a tour trophy at a time where the world is focused on preventive measures of suspending sporting events.
At the final clash in Muscat, Sharath Kamal made all the right moves against the top seeded Marcos Freitas of Portugal, winning four games against losing two.
Coming from a 6-11 loss in the first game, Kamal produced three back to back game wins of 11-8, 12-10, 11-9. Freitas, the world no. 26 got back in the match with winning the fifth game 3-11, but the final call was for the 37 year old Indian paddler who secured the sixth game 17-15, and lifted his first ITTF title in the last 10 years.
Kamal’s last ITTF trophy came all the way back in 2010 at the Egypt Open final. Since then, he was able to reach the semi finals of the 2011 Morocco Open and 2017 India Open, but was far off from clinching the title.
“I am tired but I cannot stop smiling,” Kamal expressed his joy after his extraordinary feat. In the post match interview with Times of India, the player expressed on his comeback in the second game, after Freitas made the right calls in the first.
“I was not connecting my shots perfectly. But I knew where I had to make the amends. I just had to get into the rhythm,” Kamal told reporters.
The 31 year old Portuguese powered back in the fifth game, and even took the lead in the sixth and final game of the match.
He continued: “He is a very seasoned player but even I have been in a great run of form. These matches can generally slip out any time and at 8-6, I felt he was taking control away.”
However, Kamal had the right amount of fight left him in to come victorious. “But once I levelled (at 10-10), I fought to grab it,” the paddler concluded.
The Oman Open will be ITTF’s final tour in the coming weeks, after all the ensuing tours were postponed in the wake of the virus outbreak.