Manika Batra shocked World No. 7 Chen Xingtong in a round of 16 cliffhanger but compatriot Sathiyan Gnanasekaran lost his men’s single pre-quarterfinals at the ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup on Thursday.
In the round of 16 match-ups on the opening day, World No.44 Manika, who is unseeded in the event, came up with a fantastic showing to beat the third seeded Chinese 4-3. The final scoreline in the edge-of-the-seat thriller was 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9 in the Indian’s favour with the Thai crowd extending its full-throated support.
She thanked the spectators for supporting her.
“The win gave me immense happiness when I beat the World No. 7. I will continue playing my best as I have tried all the time, and will keep the same intensity and focus for the next rounds," said Manika.
The match went down to the wire because of the exemplary courage that Manika displayed when the Chinese paddler gained the upper hand after levelling the score at 3-3.
Shedding her cautious approach, Manika went for the kill in the decider and led 5-2, 8-3, 8-7 and 9-7 before the third seed managed to hold her serve to level 9-9. Nevertheless, Manika seized the moment to serve out her opponent, taking the last two crucial points to beat the third Chinese in her career.
Manika led the first game 7-4 before letting the Chinese claw her way back to take it. But she picked up momentum, mixing the up-and-down pace cleverly to confuse her opponent. It paid off as she led 3-1.
But the Chinese closed in on, taking the next two games when Manika attacked. But everything changed in the last game when the Indian got her rhythm back to nail it.
Manika will clash with world No. 23 Chen Szu Yu from Taipei in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Earlier, G. Sathiyan, the top-ranked Indian in the world at No. 39, did everything right before going down 3-4 to the fifth-seed Japanese Yukiya Uda in the pre-quarterfinals.
Although the Japanese won 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 9-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6, Sathiyan showed great character when down 0-2 to strike back against world No. 26 and level the score at 2-2.
But the Japanese left-hander, playing well away from the table and exploiting the angles, led 3-2. In the fifth game, Uda should have sealed the match in his favour, but Sathiyan fought back well to reduce the margin.
He narrowed the two-point gap to restore parity at 9-9, and at deuce, the Japanese squandered the advantage when his service took the edge of the table and went down.
With momentum shifting his way, Sathiyan served at 11-10 to claim the crucial point to take the issue to the decider.
In the last game, Uda held the upper hand and stopped Sathiyan well short, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 9-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6 win.
Sathyan’s first-round exit, however, fetched him USD 2,250.
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