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Table Tennis

"Hate your rubbers" — World No. 5 duo tells Ayhika-Sutirtha after Indians upset them at WTT Muscat

The pair of Ayhika Mukherjee-Sutirtha Mukherjee ousted top-seeded Diaz sisters at the ongoing WTT Contender Muscat. They will now star in an all-Indian semi-final.

Ayhika Mukherjee Sutirtha Mukherjee WTT Contender Oman Muscat

Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee in action (Source: WTT)


Sohinee Basu

Updated: 3 March 2022 11:23 AM GMT

Devoid of any practice before the season, the Indian women's table tennis pair of Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee got off to a fantastic start at the ongoing WTT Contender Muscat 2022 and kept medal hopes alive.

Ousting the World No. 5 duo and top-seeds at the event, Melanie Diaz and Adriana Diaz in straight sets in the Round of 16 clash, the Mukherjee combine booked their quarter-final spot.

Seeded 10th at the WTT event, it was the World No. 79 Indian pair's first meeting with the Diaz sisters, who have recently won the 2021 ITTF Pan American Championships, as well.

Putting on a brilliant show against the top seeds, Ayhika and Sutirtha edged past them in straight sets, winning 6-11, 5-11, 9-11, causing a major upset.

Speaking to The Bridge after the enormous win that earned them the quarter-final spot, Ayhika Mukherjee relayed, "Sutirtha and I didn't get a chance to practice with each other.. but we had confidence that we could manage because we share a great understanding on the table as we both know each other's strength and weaknesses from childhood," she mentioned.

Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee (Source: ITTF World/Flickr)

The odds were stacked against the Indian pair anyway as the Diaz sisters on any given day are extremely formidable on the table. The 2022 table tennis season is just about getting started and already, Ayhika-Sutirtha, among other Indian paddlers have started pulling off these upsets and advancing deeper into the tournaments.

"The match was good as they are very strong and were the top seeds but we somehow managed to beat them in straight games," Ayhika mentioned with a chuckle.

"I think we got the advantage of my backhand rubber and also we (Sutirtha, as well) both use pimples on the forehand," which Ayhika believes enabled them to create this upset against the World No. 5 Puerto Rican duo.

"Melanie (the older Diaz sister) is a good friend of mine and after the match she told me that 'I hate your rubbers'," Ayhika revealed, visibly happy with the win.

An all-Indian semis await

Having received a walkover from the Czech pair of Zdena Blaskova and Katerina Tomanovska in the quarter-finals, the duo of Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee is now into the semi-finals.

However, things will be extra-heated in this case as they are slated to go up against another Indian pair who have also made it to the semis - the young combine of Sreeja Akula and Selena Selvakumar, who defeated a Singaporean pair 3-1 in the quarters to set up this date with the two Mukherjee's from West Bengal.

Ayhika isn't taking that match lightly either as she is aware of the good form Sreeja-Selena are enjoying and said, "We have semis with our fellow Indians, Sreeja and Selena...they are playing so good but we will give our 100%," she assured, keeping her focus on winning a medal.

Manika Batra in action at the WTT Contender Muscat 2022 (Source: WTT Global)

The WTT Contender Muscat is seeing some quality display of table tennis from our Indian paddlers with Archana Kamath, Manika Batra still present in the Women's Singles, Ayhika Mukherjee-Sutirtha Mukherjee, Sreeja Akula-Selena Selvakumar in the Women's Doubles and Manika Batra-Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Archana Kamath-Manav Thakkar in the Mixed Doubles, remaining.

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