Indiam table tennis player Bhavinaben Patel stunned defending champion Borislava Peric-Rankovic of Serbia in straight games to storm into the semi-finals of the women’s singles Class 4 event at the Tokyo Paralympics on Friday.
With the win, she assured herself of a medal at the Paralympics as there are no bronze medal playoffs in table tennis at this edition. The International Paralympic Committee Governing Board had approved ITTF’s request to remove the third-place play-off in all the medal events and award bronze to both the losing semi-finalists.
The 34-year-old Indian knocked out world No 2 and reigning champion 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 in just 18 minutes. Patel continued what has been a terrific campaign for the paddler in Tokyo.
SPORT CLASS 4, Table tennis: In TT, paddlers in classes 1-5 compete in a wheelchair. Class 4 players have some sitting balance and fully functional arms and hands. They can move to the front to meet their opponent’s serve.
Earlier in the day, she had notched a strong win over Joyce de Oliveira of Brazil, the world No 8 to reach the quarter-final. She had also beaten world No 9 Megan Shackleton in must-win group stage match.
Bhavina had become the first Indian table tennis player to enter the quarterfinals at Paralympics and is now the first in the semis, and additionally the first ever table tennis player from India to win a Paralympics medal. She will face the world No 3 ZHANG Miao of China in the semifinal on Friday, to try and make it a silver or gold.
Colour of the medal yet to be confirmed, Bhavina has become the second Indian woman to earn a place on the podium in the history of Paralympics. Rio 2016 silver medallist and Paralympic Committee of India chief Deepa Malik was the first and she had a message for the paddler.
“I could win my semifinal match due to the support of the people of India. Please keep supporting me so that I can win my semifinal match,” she said after the quarterfinal match as per PTI.
In her quarterfinal win, she trailed for just one point in the entire match: at 0-1 in the second game, but otherwise dominated the 49-year-old from Serbia, considered to be a legend of the Games.
In the round of 16, she displayed tremendous composure under pressure in the first and second games. She was down 9-10 in game 1 and then saved the game point to win three points in a row. In the second game, she was down 7-10 and faced three game points. From there she won four straight points and eventually clinched it 13-11. In the third game, she was trailing 0-3 and went on a streak of seven straight points.
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