Indian women’s table tennis team failed to qualify for the team event at Tokyo Olympics after losing 2-3 to France in the quarter-final encounter at the World Olympic Qualifying tournament in Portugal on Saturday.
India, who were vying for the ninth and final spot at the 2020 Games after being knocked out of the main draw following a 2-3 defeat to Romania on Friday, had entered the play-off draw for the additional spot.
However, their challenge ended after the very first hurdle as they were beaten in a quarter-final clash that went all the way down to the wire against France, ranked just one place below India in the ITTF women’s team rankings.
India had made a good start to the match when Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee handed them the lead in the contest with win over Stephanie Loeullette and Jia Nan Yuan in five games in the doubles match.
However, France drew level when Marie Migot, ranked 134 places below Manike Batra stunned the Indian in five games in the singles tie. Matters worsened for India in the next tie as Sutirtha Mukherjee was beaten in straight games by Jia Nuan Yuan who put France 2-1 in front in the contest.
With the Indian team’s Olympic dream on the line, Batra shrugged off her shock defeat in the first game to beat Stephanie Loeullette in three games in her second singles tie to bring the contest level again at 2-2.
In the decider, India’s Ayhika Mukherjee won the first game against Marie Migot before being pegged back in the next one. However, she did well to recover and regain the lead only for Migot fight back again to clinch the tie and the match for France who ran out winners 3-2.
The defeat ended India’s slender hopes of making it to the Tokyo Olympics team event. The men’s team will aim to go a step better later on Saturday when they take on the Czech Republic in their quarter-final encounter.