Asia Cup TT: Batra stuns world No 7; Sathiyan loses
The Indian beat Xingtong, who was part of China's gold-winning team in this year's World Team Table Tennis Championships, in a thriller
India's Manika Batra delivered one of the biggest victories of her career, stunning world No 7 Chen Xingtong of China 4-3 to enter the quarter-finals of the IITF-ATTU Asian Cup in Bangkok on Thursday.
Playing the first match of the elite Asian event competed between Asia's top 16 individual paddlers, Manika, ranked 44 in the world, beat Xingtong 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9 in a thrilling Round of 16. The competition has switched to a knockouts-only format from this edition. Manika will take on Chen Szu-Yu, the 23-ranked from Chinese Taipei, for a place in the semi-finals.
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A quality start gave Manika a decisive 3-1 lead before the Chinese, known for her lightning-fast reflexes and brilliant footwork, showed her class in the next two games to roar back into the contest. In the deciding game, the Indian once again set the pace, racing to a healthy lead and nearing the finish line at 8-3. But Xingtong wouldn't go away easily, refusing to throw in the towel and squaring things up for 9-9. The 27-year-old Manika, however, kept her composure while a couple of errors from the Chinese handed the Indian a memorable win.
Xingtong, 25, has won multiple titles on the ITTF tour and was part of China's gold-winning team in this year's World Team Table Tennis Championships in Chengdu.
The result should give a boost to Batra’s confidence in a season where she has had little to write home about on the table, apart from her off-table court battles. She appeared a quiet shadow of her booming 2018 self at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, failing to return with a single medal after winning four of them in the 2018 edition, including the singles and team gold. In Birmingham, she could not inspire a young team as it crashed out in the quarter-finals of the team event.
Leading the pack again at the world team event in October, Manika lost both her matches in India’s tight 3-2 loss to the fancied Germany in the opening tie. But she collected the wins in the remaining two group matches as the women’s team qualified for the knockouts after finishing 17th in the previous edition. Earlier this month, Manika won the mixed doubles silver medal alongside partner G Sathiyan at the WTT Contender Nova Gorica in Slovenia that took the duo to a highest-ever world No. 5 spot in the mixed doubles charts.
Meanwhile, Sathiyan lost to Japanese Yukiya Uda 4-3 (9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 6-11) in his Round of 16.
Sharath Kamal lost to Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan 11-7, 4-11, 7-11, 4-11, 6-11 to make an exit.