Muscat, March 16 – India’s No 4 seed Achanta Sharath Kamal edged out Portuguese top seed Marcos Freitas 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 17-15 to lift the men’s singles title in the 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus (Oman Open) which concluded on Sunday at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat. Japan’s No 1 seed Sato Hitomi beat her compatriot No 3 seed Kato Miyu 4-2 (14-16, 12-14, 17-15, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9) to snatch the title in women’s singles. Sharath Kamal, Pro Tour tournament (Egypt Open) winner in 2010, claimed a cheque of $8,000, the winner’s trophy and the gold medal. The champion of 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus (Oman Open 2020) took part at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus (Oman Open) and reached to Round 16. Portuguese’s Marcos Freitas won a purse of $4,000, the runners-up trophy and the silver medal.
“I am proud with this achievement which came after 10 years from my last accomplishment in Cairo city in 2010. I beat the top seed in the final and I played tough matches in the knockout stages. It was a fantastic tournament despite the travel hazards these days and Oman hosted it in a perfect environment. I was here in the previous year and I am the winner this year. Looking forward to defend my title next year,” Sharath Kamal said.
Commenting about the final, he said: “It was a thrilling match against one of the top players in the world. I managed to focus well and emerge as winner.”
Japan’s Sato Hitomi managed to land her maiden title in Muscat. She was knocked out in the semifinal last year.
Hitomi received a cheque of $8,000, the winner’s trophy and the gold medal while her opponent from Japan Kato Miyu won cash prize of $4,000.
Serbia’s Aleksandar Karavasevic and Slovakian Lubomir Pistej claimed the men’s doubles crown as they beat Belgian duo of Florent Lambiet and Martin Allegro in the final 8-11, 6-11 and 6-11. Japanese duo of Sato Hitomi and Honoka Hashmoto outplayed Singaporean team of Ye Lin and Jian Zeng 11-3, 11-9, 11-7 to claim the women’s doubles title.
In the mixed doubles, French duo of Tristan and Laura Gasnier won the title as they blanked Spanish duo of Maria Xiao and Alvaro Robles in the final 7-11, 5-11, 7-11.
Abdullah bin Mohammed Bamakhalef, Chairman of Oman Table Tennis Committee (OTTC), was the chief guest for the concluding ceremony in the presence of Bahaa al Lawati, Deputy CEO of Omantel for commercial clients, Said al Sibani, Project Director at Oman Fiber Optic company, and Sajjad al Lawati, OTTC board member and competitions manager. The chief guest distributed the awards to the top winners.
The five days of the high profile table tennis event featured participation of 150 players, coaches and administrative staff representing 25 countries. The tournament was officiated by 25 Omani umpires who had international licences and first division licences.
OTTC Chairman Abdullah bin Mohammed Bamakhalef said that hosting the 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus for the second consecutive year is a big milestone for the Sultanate. “Despite all the challenges and difficulties, we managed to have the tournament with good success in Muscat. Until the last moment we were not confirmed yet to have the tournament or not but finally we managed to host the event in Muscat as the last activity for table tennis in the world prior the ITTF announcement to suspend all activities provisionally until end of April,” he added.
The OTTC chief affirmed that OTTC will continue hosting the top world table tennis events in the Sultanate and mapped Muscat as a top destination of TT in the world. “Promoting the Sultanate’s tourism, bringing the international media to the Sultanate and supporting the country’s economy are some of the man factors to host these big table tennis events,” he ended.