Thirteen-year-old Japanese table tennis prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto ended national champion Achanta Sharath Kamal's fairy tale run at the ITTF World Tour India Open, surprising the home hero in the men's singles semifinals played at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex in New Delhi.
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.
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 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.
It was also a long day in the office for world number five Ovtcharov, who overcame two seven game matches in less than 12 hours to enter the final.
The German was first stretched to the limit by 39th ranked Yuya Oshima before he saw off another Japanese and third seed, Koki Niwa, in the semifinals.
Leading 3-1 in the quarterfinals, the German was set for a straightforward win before Oshima made a remarkable recovery to take the match into the seventh and deciding game.
Eventually, luck and experience came to the rescue of Ovtcharov, who got away with a 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 12-10 win.
In the first semifinal, Ovtcharov came from behind to beat Niwa 8-11, 11-2, 9-11, 12-10, 14-16, 11-2, 11-8.
The women's singles semifinals witnessed a major upset when top seed Doo Hoi Kem of Hong Kong was sent packing by Ekholm Matilda of Sweden. The Swede won rather convincingly with the scoreline reading 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-3.