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Sharath Kamal puts up a brave fight against reigning world champion Ma Long, bows out of Olympics 2021

Sharath Kamal
Sharath Kamal

Veteran Indian table tennis player Sharath Kamal squared off against one of the best players in the world, Ma Long (China) on Tuesday. The Ma Long challenge for Sharath Kamal went as expected. The Rio gold medallist swept away the third round match with a 4-1 (7-11, 11-8, 11-13, 4-11, 4-11) win.

Although Sharath put in a solid display in the first three sets (winning one), Long took the remaining sets by storm, leaving no revival scope for the Indian paddler.

The reigning world champion, Ma Long, has won every competition there is in table tennis. Today's game saw him at his lethal best one more time. Long will move ahead, eyeing the chance to win consecutive gold medals at the Olympics.

Sharath Kamal vs Ma Long Set-1:

Sharath vs Long (Set 1)
Sharath vs Long (Set 1)

Chinese legend Ma Long started the match with a serve. Both Sharath and Long began with a 1-1 tie. Moving forward, Sharath failed to capitalize on his service and gave both the serve points to Long, giving him a two-point lead in the beginning itself.

After getting through to the middle, Sharath made an impressive comeback to catch up with Long at 5-5, but the Chinese took over the game soon after. Towards the end of the match, a firm 4 point lead helped Long take away the first set.

Sharath Kamal vs Ma Long Set-2:

What a phenomenal set this was! It was a similar start to the first one as both players started with a point apiece. Sharath found himself trailing 3-1 but staged a phenomenal comeback to clinch six points on the trot and make it 3-7.

Sharath vs Long (Set 2)
Sharath vs Long (Set 2)

Long was not ready to give away more points as he stepped up his game to equal the scorers at 8-8. Towards the end, Sharath's incredible shot-making and aggressive returns helped him clinch an outstanding second set with a 11-8 score.

Sharath Kamal vs Ma Long Set-3:

In the third set, Sharath and Long had a neck and neck competition till the last moment. With a tied score midway, a 6-6,7-7,8-8, there was definitely a chance, where it looked like Sharath could bag the set.

The Indian paddler came back with a bang. It was deuce again for Sharat and Long at 11-11. But Long found his calmness and rhythm back in the match and sealed the 4th set point to win the set 11-13.

Sharath vs Long (Set 3)
Sharath vs Long (Set 3)

Sharath Kamal vs Ma Long Set-4:

This set was a cake walk for Long. With a comfortable six-point lead from the start of the match and maintaining it thereafter, Long made no mistake. He maintained the lead and left no room for Sharath to make a comeback. Long sealed the set conveniently with 4-11 points.

Sharath vs Long(Set 4)
Sharath vs Long(Set 4)

Sharath Kamal vs Ma Long Set-5:

Similar to the fourth set, it looked like Long was in a hurry. He wrapped up the final set 11-4 in just 6 minutes, winning the match convincingly 4-1.

Sharath vs Long (Set 5)
Sharath vs Long (Set 5)

This marks the end of the Indian table tennis contingent in singles events at the Olympics 2021. During their next Olympic outing, the Indian paddlers will look to perform in an improved manner.

Also read: India in Tokyo Olympics 2021 India Schedule

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Edited by Diptanil Roy
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