India’s top-ranked paddler G Sathiyan’s run in the ITTF Asian Cup came to an end in the quarter-finals against former world No 1 Ma Long of China on Saturday. Long prevailed over Sathiyan 11-5, 11-5, 6-11, 11-6, 11-3 in the men’s singles last-eight fixture at the continental table tennis championships in Yokohama.
However, Sathiyan pulled off a big win later in the day as he defeated world No 14 Chun Ting Wong of Hong Kong in positions 5-8 match 12-10, 10-12, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8. The result all but confirms a spot for Sathiyan at the World Cup in Chengdu, China from October 25 to 27.
The win against Hong Kong’s No 1 player has meant that the world No 28 will take on Lin Yun-Ju of Chinese Taipei in a clash to grab fifth position on Sunday. The 17-year-old left-hander, who is seven places ahead of Sathiyan, recently won his first men singles title at the Challenge Plus Oman Open when he beat top-seeded Falck Mattias in the final. In the same tournament, Sathiyan had reached the semifinals.
Sathiyan began somewhat passively before taking the first game on extended points against Wong. But then he lost second after leading 9-5 and upped the ante to wrap up the next three games to go up the ladder. Wong, who never lost to Sathiyan before, did well to recover in the fifth game but Sathiyan went from strength to strength to seal his fate.
Sathiyan admitted it was a tough against former world No 1 Long but he had a nice rhythm going against the Hong Kong player.
“I had the measure of my opponent (Wong) in spite of the first two extended games. Once I took the third and fourth games, I knew I was close to it (win),” said Sathiyan.
“It was a big win. It is my first time winning against a top-10 player [former] in an international tournament. I think it is the biggest win in my career so far. I am very happy. I am looking forward to playing with Lin Yun-Ju tomorrow. He is also a strong player,” the Indian paddler told ITTF.
Sathiyan’s tournament did not get off to the best of starts, losing first to Koki Nowa of Japan 7-11, 9-11, 12-10, 8-11 but won the match against No 8 seed 38-year-old Chuang Chih-Yuan from Taipei 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 before losing the last group match to Lee Sangsu of Korea 7-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-5.
But, by virtue of finishing third in the group, Sathiyan had another shot at the main knockout draw as he faced Kazakh’s Kirill Gerassimenko in the preliminary round. The Indian, seeded 10th in the tournament, produced an impressive performance to win 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 on Saturday, before his quarter-final defeat to reigning Olympic Champion Long.
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