Muscat: Ace Indian paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal pulled off a stunning come-from-behind victory against Russia’s Kirill Skachkov to enter the men’s singles final at the ITTF Challenger Plus Oman Open here on Sunday.
Fourth-seeded Sharath made a sensational comeback after being two games down to register 11-13, 11-13, 13-11, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7 win in a thrilling seven-game semi-final that lasted one hour and eight minutes.
The 37-year-old Indian veteran will now take on top-seeded Marcos Freitas of Portugal in the summit clash.
“Playing well here will help in getting better rankings and seedings especially keeping the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in mind,” said Sharath Kamal.
“This time we had a lot of Indians participating here as all of us are looking for a berth in Tokyo. My performance here will be significant for me personally. This also helps in bracing up for the Olympics and hope I can make it count.”
It was the first final at an ITTF event for Sharath since winning Egypt Open title in 2010. It is also his first Challenger event final.
Freitas entered final with a 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-3 win over India’s Harmeet Desai.
Desai dominated the match at the initial stage. But the world no. 26 Freitas fought back well after being 3-1 down and went on to win the next three successive games to make his way into the final.
With a good performance here, the world no. 87 Desai is expected to make notable progress in the upcoming world rankings.
Results: Men’s singles semi-finals: Achanta Sharath Kamal bt Kirill Skachkov (Russia) 11-13, 11-13, 13-11, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7; Harmeet Desai lost to Marcos Freitas (Russia) 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-3.