New Delhi: Thirteen-year-old Japanese sensation Tomokazu Harimoto ended Sharath Kamal's impressive run at the ITTF World Tour India Open, surprising the home hero in the men's singles semifinals here on Saturday.
The reigning Junior World Champion showed exemplary skills to outplay his 34-year-old opponent 11-7, 5-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9 in a late night match at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex.
The loss notwithstanding, it was a memorable tournament for Kamal who reached his first ITTF World Tour semifinal since the series (formerly called Pro Tour) was rechristened in 2012.
The Japanese, on the other hand, has had a dream run and meets top seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the final tomorrow.
Harimoto took Kamal by surprise from the outset with his speed and agility around the table. The boy whipped winners at will and his over the table forehand flicks came at lightening speeds.
Kamal knew he had to slow things down to make a match out of it. The Indian did just that and with more accuracy in his drives, took an 8-2 lead in the second game before levelling the match.
A similar pattern followed in the next two games with Harimoto on an all out attack and Kamal trying to find a way to contain him so that he could play his own game.
The crowd favourite seemed down and out in the fourth at 8-10 but found a way to equal the match once again. In the fifth, Kamal made far too many unforced errors before he netted a backhand serve on 9-10.
The sixth game too was fiercely fought but Harimoto just proved too good in the end....