In yet another day of upsets, Indian women paddlers Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee did the star-turn for India at the WTT Star Contender Goa, overcoming higher-ranked opponents to move into the last 16 stage.
The biggest upset of the day at the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium was however caused by 20-year-old Korean youngster Cho Daeseong, who ousted Chinese world No 1 in men’s singles Fan Zhendong.
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 (3-0: 12-10,11-6,11-6). The Japanese duo face the French pair of Emmanuel Lebesson and Jia Nan Yuan in the semi-finals. The other mixed doubles semi-final will be yet another Japan-Korea affair.
Manika and Sutirtha make last 16
The day, as far as hosts India were concerned, belonged to the two women paddlers Manika and Sutirtha. Manika, the India number one ousted Puerto Rican star and world No 14 Adriana Diaz 3-1 (11-9,11-8,5-11,11-8) in the evening session. Sutirtha, currently ranked 146, had earlier in the morning session, got the better of Jia Nan Yuan (world No 18) of France 3-0 (11-7,11-8,11-7). While Manika will be up against China’s Qian Tianyi (world No 20) Sutirtha will face yet another veteran Fu Yu (world No 19) of Portugal.
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 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 said after her match, “I feel absolutely great since I managed to beat a top 20 player. Tomorrow I’ll be playing against Yu Fu and I am hoping that I will win against her as well. I had faced Yuan previously also and had conceded the match with a close margin. This time I didn’t think much about the rankings and I just went with a mindset to play freely and that led me to this victory.”
The biggest shock of day four came in the men’s singles when giant-killing Korean southpaw Cho, came back from two games down to beat Fan 3-2 (7-11,6-11,12-10,11-9,11-8) to move to the round of 16. He had on Wednesday got the better of Swede Mattias Falck (wr #36).
Thrilled with his spectacular win over the world number one, Cho said, “It is the best win of my career and I am very happy. I didn’t think that I would win against Fan Zhendong. My heart was thumping fast when the final set reached 10-8. But I felt very good when I woke up today. As it is a world tournament, I will try my best to win the next game.”
The second and third seeds in the men’s singles, Japanese teenage livewire Tomokazu Harimoto (World No 4) and Swede Truls Moregard (world No 6) also made it to the last 16 with wins over Liang Yanning of China and Joao Geraldo of Portugal, respectively.
Hina Hayata out
In another big upset in the women’s singles, Japanese second seed Hina Hayata (world No 6) went down 1-3 (11-9,8-11,3-11,4-11), in her round of 32 match to Chinese Taipei’s Cheng-I-Ching (world No 31). Top seeded Chinese Wang Yidi (world No 4) though, was a comfortable 3-0 winner over yet another Japanese Miyu Nagasaki (world No 38).
Four nations in women’s doubles semis
Four different nations made the women’s doubles semi-finals, two of them at the expense of Indian pairs. Manika Batra and Archana Kamath went down in their quarter-finals against Cheng-I Ching and Li Yu-Jhun of Chinese Taipei. They won the first 11-8 but the Chinese Taipei pair came back to win the next three (15-13,11-9,11-7) and with that the match. India’s hopes in the women’s doubles were then snuffed out completely when Swedes Linda Bergstrom and Christina Kallberg ousted Ayhika and Sutirtha Mukherjee by a similar 3-1 (11-7,13-11,6-11,11-7) margin. 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).