Indian challenge ends as Achanta Kamal crash out

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Beijing, Aug 20 (UNI) A tentative Achanta Sharath Kamal went down tamely to Austria's Chen Weixing 1-4 as Indian challenge came to an abrupt end in the individual events of the Olympic Table tennis competition here today.

The match lasted 32 minutes in which Indian had a share of glory for five minutes before bowing out 5-11, 12-14, 2-11, 11-8, 12-10.

The 26-year-old Commonwealth Gold medal winner Indian must have realised that winning a medal at Melbourne and battling it out in the second round of the Olympic are two different ball games.

Kamal, who had lost to Chinese-born Austrian Chen Weixing, in their previous meeting in the 2006 Austrian Open 3-4 , could do nothing against him this time too. In fact, this time his performance was even worse.

''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,'' Kamal had said before the match.

But Weixing did not allow him that luxury as he outclassed the Indian National champion from the very start and took the first game in just three minutes (11-5).

The Indian tried to come back in the match and fought well in the second game in which lead kept changing till it was 12 all but at that stage Weixing showed his class and held his nerve and serve to win next two points and the game 14-12. This game went on for six minutes.

Weixing was in full flow in the third game, which turned out to be the most lop sided as he won in just three minutes conceding only two points to the Indian.

It turned out to be an experience indeed for the Indian at the Peking University Gymnasium where Weixing, armed with stinging whiplash forehand and vicious backhands, rattled his game.

Having taken comfortable a 3-0 lead, Weixing relaxed a bit and that enabled Sharath to fight back in the fourth game to make it 3-1 but that was merely delaying the inevitable.

The Austrian hit back with vengeance as he raced to a 5-1 lead in the fifth game and though the Indian caught up with him at 10-10, the Austrian unleashed two lethal forehands and Sharath could only see haplessly as both of his returns were buried in the net.

''I could not do anything against him today,'' Sharath said after the defeat. ''My forehand was not working well today. That's my strength and without my forehand, I'm a lesser force. Besides, I erred at crucial points and simply had no chance.'' The Indian said it was a tactical battle that he lost against Chen, ''I just could not execute my plans today and nothing really worked against him. I was erratic in the beginning and faltered in the second game when I needed to hold my nerve. In the fourth, I tried to crawl back into the match but fluffed things trying to play on to his body.'' With his Olympic campaign over, Sharath is now planning to go back to European club league.

''I have been stuck in the 70s for quite a while and I want to improve my ranking and break into the 50s. That would be the next goal for me,'' he said.

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