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Austrian Open 2018: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran qualifies for main draw

218   //    09 Nov 2018, 00:10 IST

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

India No. 2 paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran continued his sensational run at the 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum LIEBHERR Austrian Open as he won a couple of matches to qualify for the main draw of this prestigious tournament, currently being held in Linz, Austria.

The World No. 35 played some brilliant table tennis to get the better of Slovakia’s World No. 70 Lubomir Pistej 13-11, 12-10, 13-11, 12-10 in a tight straight-game match in Preliminary Round 3. He then followed it up with an even bigger result as he knocked out World No. 17 and Asian Championships silver medallist Sangeun Jeong 6-11, 11-13, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 after coming back from 2 games down.

The win has set him up for a main draw first-round meeting with World No. 16 Marcos Freitas of Portugal.

Sathiyan is now the only Indian still alive at this tournament after the exit of Achanta Sharath Kamal, Harmeet Desai, Anthony Amalraj, and Manav Vikash Thakkar in the qualifying rounds.

In women’s singles, the Commonwealth Games champion Manika Batra crashed out in the first round of preliminary matches. Also exiting the tournament in the first round of the qualifying stage were Mallika Bhandarkar, Archana Girish Kamath, and Madhurika Patkar.

After the wins, Sathiyan shared his joy on social media and also thanked his coach for helping him achieve the much-lauded feat of getting a main draw berth in such a tough World Tour event, where all but one of the top 60 paddlers have participated.

Indians bow out of doubles

India’s campaign in the doubles section, however, came to a disappointing end in the early matches held on Thursday. The Asian Games bronze medallist pair of Batra and Sharath Kamal were outplayed 9-11, 9-11, 3-11 by the Slovakian combine of Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova in the first round.

The men’s doubles pair of Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal fared no better and lost 7-11, 8-11, 5-11 to Koreans Sangsu Lee and Youngsik Jeoung.

The women’s doubles pair of Batra and Archana Girish Kamath put up a valiant fight against Balazova and Hana Matelova before going down narrowly 10-12, 12-10, 13-11, 9-11, 10-12.