Doha: India's Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan made heads turn when they defeated World No.7 Koki Niwa and 27th-ranked Yuya Oshima respectively to enter men's singles pre-quarterfinals of the ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open here.
If Sharath disposed of Niwa 8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 14-12, 11-9 rather easily, the passage of Sathiyan saw a roller-coaster ride before the Indian prevailed over Oshima 6-11, 11-5, 2-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8 in a tension-ridden Round of 32.
The match between Sathiyan and Oshima had several Indian expats on the edge of their seats and, in fact, their support encouraged him to put up a spirited fight against the 15th seed Japanese.
The turnaround for Sathiyan happened when he held on to the fifth game 12-10 after deuce -- he lost the previous game 10-12 -- to level score in the second consecutive thriller. But it gave the necessary confidence to Sathiyan as he won the last two games, striking a nice rhythm.
His next outing in the round of 16 will be much tougher he takes on the Japanese child prodigy Tomokazu Harimato, who needs no introduction to his Indian fans.
For Sharath, who did not have a good track record against Koki Nowa, the win looked rather sweet as he was down in most games. Yet, Sharath was impressive throughout and his experience came to the fore when he caused one of the biggest upsets in the championships with his strong backhand fetching him good results.
"I have never beaten him before, last year at the Asian Championships in the team event I had three match points and lost. In the first game I was ahead 8-5 and lost, in the second I was down 8-5 and won! The only way for me to beat him was to use my power, take some risks. In rallies, I had no chance against him. I also tried to slow down and not play fast," said Sharath.
In the next round late evening today, Sharath will take on Jonathan Groth of Denmark.
The two Indians also combined well to enter men's doubles quarterfinals before bowing out 12-10, 10-12, 1-11, 10-12 to the top-seeded Chinese pair of Fang Bo and Lin Gaoyuan.