Among an experienced contingent of paddlers, Manav Thakkar was the only Indian to reach the round of 16 of men’s singles at 2018 ITTF Challenge Thailand Open in Bangkok, before he eventually lost against France’s Bastien Rembert on Saturday.
Earlier on Friday, 15-year-old Cho Daeseong, the 19th seed, beat Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the 2nd seed 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-8 in the round of 32. It marked a disappointing day for India after Xu Ruifeng, a qualifier, had accounted for 4th seed Harmeet Desai 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2, 9-11, 11-6. Sanil Shetty, also part of the Gold Coast contingent, lost in the round of 64.
But Thakkar, just 18 years old, impressed where his seniors disappointed, by beating Chinese Taipei’s Peng Wang-Wei, the 18th seed 11-5, 8-11, 11-9, 7-11, 8-11, 15-13, 11-7 to move into the last 16. Thakkar came into the tournament as a qualifier.
His scintillating run came to an end, however, as he lost a marathon match against fellow 18-year-old Rembert 3-11, 11-8, 8-11, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10, 11-13. The loss will come as something of a disappointment as the Frenchman is ranked more than 400 places below Thakkar at the senior level, who is currently 447th in the world.
Thakkar, who recently secured his place in the Youth Olympic Games later this year, was also the last Indian standing in the U-21 men’s singles category, where he lost in the quarter-final to Cho, the 15-year-old who stunned Sathiyan in the senior category.
In the men’s doubles, two Indian pairs will be in quarter-final action on Saturday with Thakkar / Desai and Sathiyan / Shetty pairs recording wins against Iran (3-2) and Japan (3-1) respectively.
In the women’s singles, Ankita Das and Divya Deshpande lost their respective matches in the round of 64.