Manika Batra becomes the first Indian paddler to reach the semifinals of the Asian Table Tennis Cup defeating former World No. 10 and current World No. 22 Chen of Chinese Taipei (4-3) in yet another thrilling encounter. Manika Batra was leading (3-1) but allowed Chen to come back with the scores level at 3-3. In the final set, the scores were level at 9-9 and the Indian won two straight points to clinch the match.

Sathiyan Out

In the first match, India’s top-seeded Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was up against world no 26 Yukiya UDA of Japan at the Asian Table Tennis Cup. Sathiyan lost the encounter in seven sets (3-4) but was an entertaining one. The Indian was trailing 0-2 but came back strongly to tie the score 2-2. In the first set, both paddlers were going neck to neck but Sathiyan lost momentum towards the end and lost the set. When the scores were tied 2-2 the Japanese came back to win the third and when it looked like the match was one-sided Sathiyan for the second time came back from behind to equalize the game at 3-3.

In the end, UDA progressed through to the quarterfinals but nevertheless, it was a great fightback from Sathiyan and will now head to France to play a few club games.

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Exceptional Batra at play

Manika Batra played one of the greatest matches of her career defeating World No. 7 and tournament third seed Chen Xingtong (4-3) in yet another thrilling match. Manika was leading (3-1) at one point in time but allowed the Chinese to crawl back into the encounter equalizing at 3-3. In the sixth set Manika was leading (4-0) but a few small errors cost her the set.

In the last set again Manika was leading (4-0) and then (8-3) but the Chinese similar to the previous set fought back to score five successive points and make it 8-8. Manika in the end held her nerve and won the match which can be regarded as one of her best matches. Manika Batra has been in poor form not winning a single medal at the Commonwealth Games. This win should motivate her to perform well going forward.

Achanta Sarath Kamal who was recently nominated for the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award lost the opening round to world number 16 Chuang from Chinese Taipei (4-1). Sharath Kamal started the match well leading taking the first set but lost the next four without much fight.

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