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India's Manika Batra stuns world no. 2 Wang Manyu in round 32 of Saudi Smash 2024

Published at :May 6, 2024 at 9:04 PM
Modified at :May 24, 2024 at 10:53 AM
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(Courtesy : @KirenRijiju/X)

Ajay Gandhar

Harmeet Desai and Yashaswini Ghorpade also stunned no #5 seeds in mixed doubles.

In a major upset at the Saudi Smash 2024 table tennis tournament, Indian paddler Manika Batra scored a stunning 3-1 victory over world number #2 Wang Manyu of China in the women’s singles round of 32 on Monday.

The 39th-ranked Batra prevailed 6-11, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10 in a 37-minute thriller against the highly-fancied Chinese paddler to book her place in the round of 16. She will next face Germany’s Nina Mittelham, ranked 14th in the world, for a quarter-final berth.

This marquee win comes just weeks after the 28-year-old Batra lost her status as India’s top-ranked women’s singles player to the rising Sreeja Akula, who is currently world no. 38 compared to Batra’s 39th position in the latest ITTF rankings.

Batra had earlier kicked off her Saudi Smash campaign on a positive note, dismissing Romania’s Andreea Dragoman 11-6, 13-11, 11-8 in the opening round on Saturday.

Her win over Wang Manyu also means, the Indian women’s paddlers have now beaten the top 3 ranked women’s singles paddlers (all Chinese) this year. While Manika has registered her win in the ongoing tournament, Ayhika Mukherjee and Sreeja Akula also recorded wins over World No. #1 Sun Yingsha and current World No. #3 Wang Yidi, who was ranked WR-2 then, at the ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships.

There was further cause for cheer for the Indian contingent as the mixed doubles pair of Harmeet Desai and Yashaswini Ghorpade scripted an upset of their own on Monday. The unseeded Indian duo overcame the fifth-seeded Spanish combine of Alvaro Robles and Maria Xiao 11-5, 5-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-7 in a gruelling round of 16 contest to make the quarterfinals.

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Earlier, Desai and Ghorpade had defeated Chile’s Nicolas Burgos and Paulina Vega 11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5 in their opening round.

Asian Games bronze medallists Ayhika and Sutirtha Mukherjee completed a perfect day for India, women’s duo defeated Egypt’s Mariam and Marwa Alhodaby 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 in the women’s doubles round of 32.

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