INDIAN paddler Harmeet Desai staved off a strong challenge from compatriot Amalraj Anthony to win the ITTF Challenge Indonesia Open in Batam, Indonesia on Sunday. In an all-Indian men’s singles final, it was Harmeet who started on a positive note winning the opening game 11-9 but he lost the next game 9-11, allowing Amalraj to draw level.
World No 104 Harmeet, however, took control of the proceedings and won the next two games by an identical margin of 11-9 to go 3-1 up in the match. Amalraj reduced the lead by winning the next game 12-10, but the reigning Commonwealth table tennis (TT) Champion did not make any further mistake and won the 6th game 11-9 to seal the match 4-2 and win his second international title of the year. Both the players looked in ominous form in the previous rounds getting past their respective opponents with consummate ease.
Harmeet trounced Yuto Kizikuri of Japan and Siu Hang Lam of Hong Kong by the same scoreline of 4-2 in the quarters and semi-finals respectively, while Amalraj recorded identical 4-0 victories over Joao Monteiro of Portugal and Ibrahima Diaw of Senegal in the round of eight and four. Harmeet and Amalraj also teamed up in the men’s doubles event and made it to the semi-finals of the championship. Playing against the talented pair of Man Ho Kwan and Siu Hang Lam of Hong Kong, the duo came up with a spirited challenge but unfortunately capitulated 3-0 (7-11, 9-11, 9-11) to bow out of the tournament.