Tokyo Olympics: Sutirtha Mukherjee wins a thriller in her debut match
Entering as the dark horse, Sutirtha Mukherjee played a nail-biter to win her debut match at the Tokyo Olympics and stormed past Linda Bergström.
World No. 98 Sutirtha Mukherjee, in her debut Olympic, displayed an impressive performance to knock out Sweden's higher-ranked Linda Bergström in a 7 game thriller, winning, 11-5, 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 3-11, 9-11, 5-11.
Just after Manika Batra became the first Indian woman to win a table tennis singles match at the Olympics in 29 years, West Bengal's Sutirtha Mukherjee also joined the club, winning after a dominating performance.
With coach Soumyadeep Roy on the sidelines, Sutirtha found inspiration and gave a steady competition to Bergström, especially from the second game, after which there was no stopping the Bengal girl.
Linda looked dominating from the get go and closed out the first game in 6 mins with a 11-5 win. Sutirtha never looked in control of the game and maybe that had to do with her unsettled nerves. Sutirtha made too many errors on return and unforced errors made sure that Linda took a comfortable win in the first game.
You'd expect a fightback from the Indian playing in her first Olympics and boy did she make a comeback in the second set taking a 8-3 lead before Linda made a comeback and the scores reading 9-8 in favour of the Indian. She held onto her nerves and eventually took the game 11-9.
Linda seemed to have been trusting her slices in the third set with 4 out of her 8 points, coming off unreturned shots off slice. Sutirtha made a remarkable comeback winning 4 straight points to even the squares at 9-all but eventually losing the game to her opponent who persisted with her slices which were proving to be effective for her, hence closing the game at 11-9.
A 4-1 lead in the sixth game gave Linda a lot of confidence as she looked to close out the match with this game. But, Sutirtha had other plans as she made a strong comeback winning 6 points on the trot. As the match from the very beginning, it was a see-saw battle between the two paddlers who didn't give each other much and looked determined to clinch a victory. Finally, after some amazing display of skills, the Indian paddler emerged victorious in the 6th game and took the match to the deciding game with the games tied at 3-3.
The deciding game didn't seem to be going in favour of the Swedish and you could see the frustration quite evident when she was throwing the towel in frustration after the first 2 points of the game went in favour of the Indian. The Indian was leading 5-1 at the time of side change and looked set to win the match after an impressive performance. She dealt the final blow to the Swedish's chances when she displayed an array of strokes and took the match with a 11-5 win in the last game.
She now moves into the 2nd round and surely this win will boost up her confidence and give her a satisfactory feeling advancing to the next round.