World Table Tennis Championships 2022: Indian Men Enter Pre-Quarterfinals Despite France Loss

The Indian men’s team advanced to the pre-quarterfinals despite losing 0-3 to France at the World Table Tennis Championships 2022 in Chengdu on Tuesday. The Indians escaped elimination by the skin of their teeth, entering the round of 16 as one of the higher-ranked best-placed third teams in the group stages.

As a change of strategy, India opened with Manav Thakkar against Alexis Lebrun, ranked No. 30 in the world, and the 0-3 (6-11, 8-11, 8-11) loss straightaway pushed them on the back foot.

World number 37 G Sathiyan took on Felix Lebrun in the second tie. But the 86th-ranked Frenchman punched way above his weight to pummel the Indian in straight games to win 11-4, 11-2, 11-6 and put his side 2-0 up.

Harmeet Desai too failed to withstand the pressure despite putting up a fight against Jules Rolland, who won 11-13, 13-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 in the gripping third rubber to give France the top-of-the-table position in their group, despite a three-way tie.

With three teams — France, Germany and India — finishing on same points (7) with three wins and one loss each, France pitch-forked itself to the top position on a head-to-head win over India.  However, India’s 0-3 loss enabled Germany, who beat France 3-1 on Monday, to take the second spot in the group.

 The two-higher ranked teams that finished third in their groups filled the two vacant slots in the top 16-team knockout. India qualified for the pre-quarterfinals as the other team in contention for the spot — Romania — is ranked lower in the world standings.

India will face top seeds China first up in the pre-quarterfinals. The Indian women’s team has also made it through to the round of 16.

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