WTT Contender: Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee Enter Round Of 16

Indian women paddlers Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee overcame higher-ranked opponents to move into the last-16 stage at the World Table Tennis Contender Championship in Panaji on Thursday.

The biggest upset of the day was headlined by 20-year-old Korean youngster Cho Daeseong, who ousted Chinese world No. 1 in men’s singles Fan Zhendong.

Manika beat world No. 14 Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico 3-1. The scoreline read 11-9, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8 in the Indian star’s favour.

Sutirtha, currently ranked 146, had in the morning session, got the better of world No. 18 Jia Nan Yuan of France 3-0. Sutirtha won 11-7, 11-8, 11-7.

While Manika will be up against world No. 20 Qian Tianyi of China, Sutirtha will face yet another veteran Fu Yu, who is ranked 19th in the ITTF charts.

An exhausted Manika, whose defensive chops were too hot to handle for Adriana, said after the match, “I am really happy that I won today against Adriana Diaz.

“Let’s see what happens in the next round. I have played her (Qian Tianyi) before and will have some strategies against her. I’ll just give my best and I will just play my best game tomorrow for my country and for myself.”

Sutirtha, whose impeccable timing and power on the forehand have been her strength in the tournament, said, “I feel absolutely great since I managed to beat a top-20 player. Tomorrow, I’ll be playing against Fu Yu and I am hoping that I will win against her as well.

“I had faced Yuan previously also and had conceded the match by a close margin. This time I didn’t think much about the rankings and just went with the mindset to play freely, and that led me to this victory.”

Manika Batra and Archana Kamath went down in their quarter-final against Cheng-I Ching and Li Yu-Jhun of Chinese Taipei. They won the first game 11-8 but the Chinese Taipei pair came back to win the next three 15-13, 11-9, 11-7.

India’s hopes in women’s doubles were snuffed out completely when Swedes Linda Bergstrom and Christina Kallberg ousted Ayhika and Sutirtha Mukherjee 3-1 (11-7, 13-11, 6-11, 11-7). Japan and Korea are the other semi-finalists in the women’s doubles.

The men’s doubles will be a straight fight between Japan and Korea as two of their pairs clash with each other, in each of the two semi-finals.

One of them, Lim Jonghoon and Jang Woojin of Korea got the better of Indians Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar 3-1 (12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6).

The Indian mixed doubles pair of Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran made a quarter-final exit, going down to Miwa Harimoto and Shunsuke Togami of Japan in three straight games 12-10, 11-6, 11-6).

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