Indian star paddlers Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra on Thursday displayed exemplary performances at the ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open.
The former Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Sharath Kamal, showed tremendous grit and resolve as he partnered Manika to a marathon 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 victory over home hope Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel.
Later, Sharath Kamal paired up with Gnanasekaran Sathiyan to register yet another hard-fought 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9 win against Japan’s rising stars, Shunsuke Togami and Yukiya Uda in men’s doubles.
Sharath Kamal and Batra showed glimpses of the fighting spirit and resilience that took them to a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games. Buoyed by the home support, the Hungarian pair took a two-game lead but that could not deter the Indians, who stormed their way back to win the next two games.
The Indian pair will face Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito in their quest for a semi-final berth. With Ito being at a career-high world ranking of No. 3 and Mizutani being No. 15, the Indians cannot afford to make any mistake against the much-fancied pair.
In men’s doubles, Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan have a relatively easier path as they take on Hungary’s World No. 132 Szudi and World No. 142 Nandor Ecseki next. In other results, Harmeet Desai and Manav Vikash Thakkar went down fighting 11-13, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6, 2-11 to Hong Kong’s Hang Siu Lam and Nam Pak NG.
Manika sizzles in singles
HUGE HUGE comeback by Manika Batra against Chen Szu-Yu (TPE, WR 26).
Manika lost the first 3 games, and then faced match point in game 4 for a straight set loss. But she saved it, and then rallied for a 9-11 4-11 7-11 12-10 11-9 11-7 14-12 win!!!
— Kapil Choudhary (@kapil857) February 20, 2020
Manika, then, produced one of the biggest wins of her career as she beat World No. 26 Chen Szu-Yu (TPE) 4-3 in a terrific encounter. The 24-year-old paddler lost the first 3 games, and then faced match point in game 4 for a straight-set loss. However, she managed to save it, and then, started gaining confidence and momentum.
Eventually, Manika rallied to a 9-11 4-11 7-11 12-10 11-9 11-7 14-12 win to enter the Round of 16. She had earlier won three back to back matches to make it to the main draw of the prestigious event.
(With inputs from PTI)