G Sathiyan on Friday became only the second Indian man to reach the men’s singles quarter-finals at the Asian Table Tennis Championships when he defeated An-ji Song of North Korea at Yogyakarta in Indonesia but his run ended in the last eight stage.
In a tough match-up against the world No 4 Lin Gaoyuan, Sathiyan battled hard but lost by a 1-3 scoreline. The Indian lost the first two games 7-11, 5-11 but he fought back in the third to stay alive by clinching it 11-8. The fourth game was neck-to-neck with the players level at 7-7 but the Chinese paddler finished well to take it 11-8.
Earlier, Sathiyan, currently the top-ranked Indian in the world, hardly broke a sweat as he notched up a 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 win against his North Korean opponent in the pre-quarterfinal match that lasted 22 minutes.
The only other occasion when an Indian paddler had reached the singles quarter-finals was when Sudhir Phadke beat a Chinese in the pre-quarterfinals of the Asian Championships in Pyongyang way back in 1976.
“I am extremely happy to reach the quarterfinals for the first time and it has been a wonderful journey so far. I would really love to set the bar high for Indian table tennis and hungry to go even further in the tournament,” Sathiyan had said earlier, according to PTI.
When reminded that he and Sharath Kamal had an impressive outing against Gao and his partner earlier in the day in men’s doubles, Sathiyan said, “Yes, we were almost in the medal round and that would have been historic. But in the decider they [Chinese] pulled it off.”
In the men’s singles round of 64, Sathiyan had accounted for Singapore’s Koh Dominic Song Jun 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 before beating Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 in the round of 32.
In the men’s doubles, the pair of Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal failed to reach the medal round in the men’s doubles as they lost to the Chinese duo of Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan 6-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-8, 7-11.
Except for Sharath and Harmeet Desai who could not go past the round of 64, the other three Indians – Sathiyan, Amalraj and Manav – made it to the round of 32 in the men’s singles. Only Sathiyan survived to move into the pre-quarterfinals and then to the quarterfinals while the other two exited.
Amalraj lost to Chen Chien-An of Taipei 6-11, 8-11, 8-11, while Manav was beaten by another Taipei player Liao Cheng-Ting who won 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 in the round of 32.
Like Sharath, who lost to Japanese Takuya Jin 11-4, 5-11, 11-7, 6-11, 12-14, Harmeet Desai too went down fighting to Jang Woojin of Korea 11-7, 2-11, 5-11, 5-11 in the round of 64.
Among the women players, only Ayhika entered the pre-quarterfinals before losing to three-time world champion and reigning Olympic champion Ding Ning of China 5-11, 13-11, 4-11, 9-11.
Manika Batra lost to Hitomi Sato of Japan 9-11, 8-11, 4-11 in the round of 32 while Archana lost to Feng Tianwei of Singapore 9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 4-11.
(With PTI inputs)