Jaipur: India's top player Sharath Kamal stunned world no.8 Chuang Chih-Yuan to begin his campaign in style at the 28th Asian Cup Table Tennis tournament here on Friday.
Placed in a tough Group B, 49th-ranked Sharath defied the odds to overpower his Chinese Taipei opponent 11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 11-3 at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium.
The 32-year-old still has lots to do for going further in the premier continental event. Only two progress to the quarterfinals from his group of four and that means the Indian will have to beat either world no.3 Fan Zhendong or 16th ranked Joo Saehyuk in his remaining league matches to be held later in the day.
In another possible scenario, Sharath will have to take the play-off route to advance to the last eight if he finishes third in the group.
The two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist said the win over Chuang has given his confidence a big boost. He had beaten the same opponent en route to finishing an impressive sixth in the tournament?s 2014 edition in Wuhan, China.
Sharath, who relies more on forehand, upped his back hand game to outsmart Chuang today. He played positive from the word go and came back strongly after slipping in the second game.
He attributed his success to the time spent time in Denmark and Sweden with Chinese players and coaches in the run up to the tournament.
"I've lost to Chuang Chih-Yuan many times in the past but recently I have done much better against him," said Sharath.
"Last year at the Asian Cup, in the matches for fifth to eighth place, I beat him; also in our most recent meeting in the German Bundesliga I only lost three-two.
"Previously, he has always proved too fast for me but today I was playing on home ground; for him it was very different. He looked nervous initially and I was able to maintain the pressure," he added.
The selectors did not pick him for the event after he missed the Nationals owing to club commitments in Germany, but he eventually made the cut on his world ranking.
Soumyajit Ghosh and G Sathiyan, the other Indians in the 16-player field, could not put much of a fight against their higher-ranked opponents, losing to Tang Peng and Yang Zi respectively in three straight games.
Mouma Das and Poulomi Ghatak too lost their opening women's singles matches in straight games.