India Open table tennis: Sharath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh to spearhead hosts’ challenge

New Delhi [India], Jan.30 : Experience Achanta Sharath Kamal and young Soumyajit Ghosh will spearhead India's challenge in the men's category at the India Open of the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour to be held here in the national capital from February 14 to February 19.

Eleventh seeded Sharath is India's most prolific player in table tennis, having won multiple titles at the international level; Soumyajit, on the other hand, is considered the future of Indian table tennis.

Ghosh, who is currently 23 years old, has already represented India in two consecutive Olympics. The Indian charge in the women's category will be led by 21-year-old Manika Batra along with the experienced Mouma Das.

Meanwhile, world No.6 table tennis player Dmitrij Ovtcharov of Germany and No.8 Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus have also confirmed their participation in the tournament.

Germany's Ovtcharov, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and winner of team Bronze in 2016 Olympics, will be the top seed and is expected to be the firm favourite given his current form.

Indian fans are familiar with him as he has already played here once, in the 2010 ITTF Pro Tour. He clinched the title that year and will be eager to make it a grand double during this foray. The 28-year-old is a seasoned campaigner, having won eight European Championship gold medals, including six in team events.

He ,however, is likely to face stiff competition from Samsonov of Belarus, easily the most experienced and accomplished player on the roster.

He went all the way to the quarterfinals in the recently concluded Hungarian Open, underlining the fact that he is a force to reckon with even at 40 years.

Amazingly, he is only the second paddler in the history of the game to stay in the Top 10 for 15 long years.

He has also won a whopping 26 ITTF Pro Tour titles, the most by any player. Among other exciting players to watch out for are Japan duo World No. 16 Koki Niwa, World No. 21 Yuto Muramatsu and UK's World No. 40 Paul Drinkhall. A five-time national champion, Drinkhall has had a great 2016, winning the bronze medal in the World Championships (Team).

Another interesting player in the fray is World No. 64 Harimoto Tomakazu of Japan. He is a 15-year-old prodigy who became the youngest World junior champion last year. He has been making rapid strides at the senior level too, and will be one of the players to look out for.

The Hong Kong duo of Doo Hoi Kem and Ching Lee Ho will lead the competition in the women's section. 20-year-old Kem is a player with high pedigree, having already won two titles in the 2014 Youth Olympics.

She also picked up the mixed doubles bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships. In the men's doubles event, the Japanese duo of Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima will start as the top seeded pair, followed by the German pair of Ruwen Filus and Ricardo Walther of Germany and Robert Gardos of Austria and Lubomir Jancarik of Czech Republic.

India's fight will be led by the team of Amalraj Anthony and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sanil Shetty and Sharath Kamal.

The women's doubles will see the Hong Kong pair of Hoi Kem and Ching Lee start as the top seed, while Sweden's Matilda Ekholm and Hungary's Georgina Pota will be the second seeded team.

Four teams will represent India in women's doubles with Manika Batra and Mouma Das teaming up to lead the campaign.

The Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour, India's first table tennis extravaganza in many years, promises to be a sporting breakthrough with a number of top international stars and the country's best players confirming their participation.

Source: ANI