At most events, the final is usually more anti-climatic than the semi-finals. The final of the Ultimate Table Tennis was no different. After two semi-finals which were decided on the final play of the tie, the final saw Chennai Lions dominate Delhi Dabang and claim the title in just over an hour in New Delhi.
Chennai were so dominant in the final that they won the final in a total of nine sets only. The team which first wins eight sets out of the total 15 in the entire wins is declared the winner. Chennai did that by winning their matches 2-1, 3-0 and 3-0.
Delhi, led by India’s top men’s singles player Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, were a shadow of the team in they were in the semi-finals, in which they had beaten table-toppers U Mumba 8-7. Chennai, however, gave them no chance.
The final began with the women’s singles match between Solia Petrissa of Chennai and Bernadette Szocs of Delhi. Petrissa turned the momentum in Chennai’s favour after winning the first set 11-5 after being level at 5-5. The second set was even more one-sided as she won 11-4. Szocs did bounce back and won the final set 9-11 to put her team on the scorecard.
“I think I lost an important point by losing the final set,” Petrissa said. “We could have had it 3-0. It was so close.”
But it did not matter in the end as Tiago Apolonia in men’s singles and the mixed doubles pair of Sharath Kamal and Petrissa blanked Sathiyan and Sathiyan-Szocs respectively.
Sathiyan was expected to help Delhi bounce back but Apolonia made it a one-sided contest, winning the match 11-6, 11-7, 11-9.
“Obviously the team was banking on me but it was just a difficult match,” Sathiyan said. “I was playing him for the first time. But this loss was a good learning experience.”
The Indian was frustrated by the points conceded by him due to net cord and side edges. Even Apolonia’s defence through the match was frustrating Sathiyan. In the second game, Tiago won a 16-shot really despite Sathiyan showing all tricks in his bag.
“I was not able to adjust to the speed of his game. Playing him for the first time, he broke my rhythm,” Sathiyan said. “I was trying to hit the ball early but he slowed the game and then burst with a speedy shot.”
In the mixed doubles match too, Sathiyan did not look in his element and failed to help the battling Szocs. On the other hand, Sharath and Petrissa were off to a strong start, winning the first game 11-7. Errors committed by Delhi and some smart play from Chennai meant that the former had no chance to bounce back. Sharath and Petrissa won the final set 11-3 to finish the tie.