Pyeongchang (South Korea) | The Indian men's table tennis team assured itself of at least a bronze medal in the Asian Championships with a 3-0 win over Singapore in the quarterfinals here on Monday.
The opening singles between veteran Sharath Kamal and Izaac Quek went down to the wire with the 41-year-old Indian prevailing 11-1, 10-12, 11-8, 11-13, 14-12.
"In the fourth, he (Izaac) came back well. But I had a firm grip on the game. In the fifth, however, I trailed throughout. It was good I eventually won," said Sharath.
The seasoned G Sathiyan then blanked Yew En Koen Pang 11-6, 11-8, 12-10 to give India a 2-0 lead in the last eight clash.
India's highest-ranked player at 61, Harmeet Desai, sealed the tie by outplaying Zhe Yu Clarence Chew 11-9, 11-4, 11-6.
"After Sharath fought well to give the momentum, I and Harmeet finished well. It was necessary. We are in good shape but won't be satisfied with the bronze, which we are sure of. We will keep pushing ourselves to the limit against Taipei in the semifinals," Sathiyan said.
At the Asian Championships, the losing semifinalists are also awarded bronze medals.
Third seeds India play either Iran or Chinese Taipei in the semifinals. The men's team finished with a bronze in the previous edition in Doha two years ago.
"In the fourth, he (Izaac) came back well. But I had a firm grip on the game. In the fifth, however, I trailed throughout. It was good I eventually won,” said Sharath.
After a long time, Sharath and Sathiyan find themselves out of the top-100 in the singles rankings and would be looking to make amends in the individual events here.
The revised points system and not playing enough tournaments have contributed to their steep drop in the rankings.
In the women's quarterfinals, fifth seeds India suffered a 0-3 loss against Japan on Monday.
World number eight Mima Ito got past Ayhika Mukherjee in the opening singles without much difficulty, winning 11-7, 15-13, 11-8.
Indian star and world number 36 Manika Batra took a game off seventh ranked Hina Hayata before going down 7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 3-11.
Suthirtha Mukherjee also did well to win the opening game against 14th ranked Miu Hirano before the Japanese found her rhythm for a 7-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 victory.
Following the loss, India will play classification matches for 5-8 positions on Tuesday.
The continental event is being played ahead of the Hangzhou Asian Games beginning September 23. PTI BS