Paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal enters round 2

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{image-sharath kamal_19082008.jpg www.oneindia.com}Beijing, Aug 19: A tentative Achanta Sharath Kamal made heavy weather of his victory as he downed qualifier Alfredo Cameros of Spain 4-2 to move into the second round of men's table tennis event of the Olympics here today.

The Indian had to wage a grim battle against Carneros, his partner at the San Sebastian Club in Spain, but held his nerve to win the tie 6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6 and 11-7 in 45 minutes. With both players knowing each other's game well, Sharath did not find going easy against Carneros.The Indian, most of the time tended to take the lead early but the Spaniard always found a way to crawl into the match and make life difficult for the Indian.

After Carneros came from behind to win the first game, Sharath took 8-5 lead in the second but the Spaniard caught up with him at 10-10. The Indian finally wrapped up the game with two stinging forehands to draw parity and stay afloat.

Sharath pocketed the third game as well but Carneros was not ready to sit back and relax. Trailing 5-8, the Spaniard hit back and won six of the next seven points to level the score 2-2.

The Indian then raced to a 5-0 lead in the fifth game and though Carneros made desperate efforts to reduce the gap, he knocked one long and was then left cursing luck as Sharath's return touched the net before dropping dead.

After that Indian grew in confidence and looked more consistent and he sealed the sixth game with a fierce forehand that beat Carneros all ends up.

''This being my first match, there was some rustiness. Besides, you had two players who know each other inside out. It was more of a mind-game, for I knew what he was going to do and he knew what I was up to. So the trick was to outthink each other,'' Sharath said after his win.

''Every time I took a lead, he would catch up with me and it was getting very nagging. I also had trouble while standing back, as I could not gauge the ball and had most of the time dipping it just in front. That's why I could not put topspin and was lobbing it, which made it easy for him,'' he said.

The Commonwealth games champion Sharath now faces a bigger hurdle in the next round when he takes on the Chinese-born Austrian Chen Weixing, who had beaten him in their previous meeting in the 2006 Austrian Open.

About that match, the Indian admitted that it is not going to be easy against Weixing but said he had nothing to lose.

''I lost to him 3-4 in the Australian Open but that was a really close match. And I'm talking about a match that took place two years back. Things have changed a lot since then and I'll put my best foot forward tomorrow,'' he added.

UNI

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