Veteran Indian table tennis star Achanta Sharath Kamal overcame a slow start to beat Portugal’s Tiago Polonia in the second round to set up a clash with defending champion Ma Long at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.

The 39-year-old Sharath struggled in the first game but pulled himself up just in time to win 2-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9 in the 49-minute second-round contest.

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The Indian paddler now has a tough match ahead as he takes on the legendary Long, who is also the reigning world champion. Considered one of the greatest players of all time, Long has won every singles title in the sport.

Earlier, Sharath takes the vital fifth gam, using his backhand and side spin very well after his opponent drew level. That was the decisive moment for the veteran.

Sharath’s compatriot G Sathiyan had lost his men’s singles second round from an advantageous position on Sunday to exit the competition.

In the women’s draw, Manika Batra moved to the third round with an upset win over world number 32 Margaryta Pesotska of Ukraine on Sunday.

With PTI Inputs