The Indian men's table tennis team's hopes of landing a spot in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 were severely dented as they were outplayed by Slovenia, with the latter registering a 3-1 win in Round of 16 clash as part of the ongoing 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament taking place in Gondomar, Portugal.
Coming into the clash on the back of a 3-0 win against Luxembourg, the Sharath Kamal-led side was expected to put up a strong performance against Slovenia.
The exciting duo of Sharath Kamal/Harmeet Desai got India off to a top start as they registered an 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 win over Deni Kozul / Bojan Tokic to set the ball rolling, only for Slovenia to draw level with Darko Jorgic's 9-11, 12-10, 11-3 win over Sathiyan Gnanasekaran in the men's singles division.
Harmeet Desai next squared off against Bojan Tokic in a singles match, with the Indian drawing first blood courtesy of an 11-5 win from the first set. The thrilling encounter went all the way till the last set with both paddlers clinching two sets each in the match.
However, Bojan held on and claimed an 11-6 win in the final set to give his side an imperative 2-1 overall lead.
Veteran paddler Sharath Kamal squared off against Darko Jorgic with hopes pinned on the former to claim an important win and give the Indian team a chance at taking a decisive lead through Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.
Kamal started off on a positive note with a 12-10 win in the opening set but Darko made a strong comeback to win three sets in a row and sealed a 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8 win, bringing a premature temporary halt to India's quest for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Achanta Sharath Kamal / Harmeet Desai def. Deni Kozul / Bojan Tokic (11-9, 11-7, 11-5)
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran lost to Darko Jorgic (9-11, 10-12, 3-11)
Harmeet Desai lost to Bojan Tokic (11-5, 10-12, 11-6, 5-11, 6-11)
Achanta Sharath Kamal lost to Darko Jorgic (12-10, 7-11, 10-12, 8-11)Published 24 Jan 2020, 23:33 IST