Sharath takes a game off Ma Long before bowing out
Indian paddler Sharath Kamal took a game off the legendary Ma Long, the reigning Olympic and world champion, before making a third-round exit from the table tennis competition at the Tokyo Games on Tuesday. Kamal fought tooth and nail to take the second game from Long but eventually lost 7-11 11-8 11-13 4-11 4-11 in 46 minutes.
Kamal took a 7-3 lead in the second game
With the defeat, India's challenge has ended in table tennis at the Games. Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee, and G Stahiyan have all exited the singles competition. After losing a close first game, Kamal took a 7-3 lead in the second with some perfectly placed forehands, and he was also helped by some errors by Long.
Kamal sealed the second game with a slap shot
The Chinese legend reduced the margin by taking five straight points, inducing backhand errors from the Indian. A crushing forehand winner after a short rally gave Kamal a chance to close the second game in his favor and he sealed that with a slap shot.
Long took four consecutive points to snatch the lead
Kamal responded extremely well to the balls hit close to his body to lead 4-2 in the third game but Long took four consecutive points to snatch the lead. A backhand error from Kamal at 8-8 gave Long the advantage but Kamal did not let him close it out easily. Long took a time out and sealed the third game for a 2-1 lead.
Kamal lagged behind 0-6 in third game, making return difficult
A flurry of errors from Kamal and some better hitting from Long put the Indian behind 0-6, a lead from where a comeback was not easy against a player of Long's caliber. From an intense contest, it suddenly became a drab one-sided affair with Kamal struggling to keep pace with Long.