The star Indian pair of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra made their way into the mixed-doubles final at the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament after they defeated Singapore’s Koen Pang Yew En and Lin Ye 4-2 in the last-four clash in Doha on Friday.
The World No 19 Indian pair has now set up the final clash against the top seeds at the event — the Korean pair of Sang-Su Lee and Jihee Jeon on Saturday. Both pairs are now a win away from qualifying for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with only one quota spot available from the event.
Having already secured the singles berths on Thursday and now aiming for double qualification, Sharath and Batra faced a tough challenge in the initial part of the match as the scores were level at 2-2 after four games.
However, the 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist pair managed to hold an edge over the opponent and bagged two successive games to complete a 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 13-11 victory in 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, the world No 5 Korean duo Lee and Jeon entered the final with 4-11, 11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8 victory against Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul and Suthasini Sawettabut.
With no other qualification events scheduled and the ranking spots unlikely, this is set to be the final chance for India to earn a mixed doubles quota.
On Thursday, all the four Indian paddlers — Sharath, Batra, G Sathiyan and Sutirtha Mukherjee — earned themselves singles qualification at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. While Sathiyan and Sutirtha emerged winners in their respective categories of the South Asian Group for their assured quota spots, Sharath and Batra sealed Tokyo berths by virtue of being the highest-ranked second-placed players. Their quotas are set to be confirmed once the ranking list for April is issued.
The list of qualified mixed doubles pairings for Tokyo 2020 so far is available here.