Two Indian pairs reached the quarterfinals of the World Table Tennis Championships in Houston on Friday, with Manika Batra making it in both women’s and mixed doubles.
With losing semi-finalists getting bronze medals, the Indian pairs are one wins away from ensuring a place on the podium.
Batra and Archana Kamath, seeded tenth, beat Hungary’s Dora Madarasz and Georgina Pota in four games, winning 3-1 (11-4, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7). They will now face Sarah de Nuette and Xia Lian Ni of Luxembourg, the world No 60 pair.
Batra then teamed up with G Sathiyan to clinch a thrilling fightback win over China’s Wang Manyu and USA’s Kanak Jha. The Indians came back from two games and match points down to win 3-2 (15-17, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7). Batra and Sathiyan will take on Hina Hayata and Tomokazu Harimoto from Japan, ranked No 20 in the world, next.
“I think our combination works really well. In the beginning we were a little nervous because this was our first time in this hall. After 0-2 I don’t know what happened to both of us as we played awesome. I think every Indian was cheering for us so thanks to everyone,” Batra was quoted as saying by World Table Tennis.
“The first game was close, and we were a little disappointed to lose it while the second game was also close. The match was pretty even despite being 0-2,” Sathiyan added.
“Then I think we started to find the rhythm, get more aggressive and started to combine well. We didn’t give up until the last point so I think it’s a fantastic win and we’re really happy to reach the quarter-finals. We feel like we are playing at home here in America so thank you to all the Indian fans here.”
However, it was curtains for another mixed doubles pair as Archana Kamath and veteran Sharath Kamal went down in the quarters to the pair of Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jia Nan in straight gams 0-3 (11-4, 11-8, 11-5.)
Earlier in the mixed doubles pre-quarterfinals, Batra and Sathiyan got past Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz and Brian Afanador 3-1 while Sharath and Archana got the better of Egypt’s Omar Assar and Dina Meshref 3-2.
In the women’s doubles, Batra and Kamath had reached the round of 16 with a 3-0 win over Belgium’s Margo Degraef and Nathali Marchetti.
Sathiyan had lost his men’s singles round of 32 after stretching world number 17 Aruna Quadri to seven games in a thriller. In the men’s doubles, Sharath and Sathiyan went down against Sweden’s Anton Kallberg and Truls Moregard. The Indians had got a first round bye.