What's the story?
It was a good day for India at the Hungarian Open Table Tennis Championships. The mixed doubles pair of Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra reached the semi-finals with Sharath also reaching the men's doubles quarterfinals along with Sathiyan Gnanasekaran. Manika and Sathiyan also made it through to the women's and men's singles pre-quarterfinals respectively.
In case you didn't know
The 2020 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Hungarian Open is being held at Budapest, Hungary. The qualification stage of the tournament took place on 18th and 19th February with the main draw taking place from 20th to 23rd February.
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was the only Indian to get a direct entry in the main draw of the men's singles event owing to his World ranking of 30. The rest of the Indians, both in the singles and doubles events, had to go through the qualification stage to make it to the main draw.
Heart of the matter
India's table tennis stars, Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra, reached the mixed doubles semi-finals of the ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open. They got through the quarterfinals without striking a ball as they got a walkover from their Japanese opponents Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito.
Earlier in the day, Sharath and Manika came back from 2-1 down to prevail over their Hungarian opponents Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel in the last 16 encounter. The Indian pair won the match 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7.
Sharath also made it through to the men's doubles quarterfinals along with Sathiyan Gnanasekaran. They defeated the Japanese pair of Shunsuke Togami and Yukiya Uda 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9 in the pre-quarterfinals.
In the women' singles, Manika caused a major upset by defeating Chen Szu-Yu of Chinese Taipei, the No. 11 seed. It was even more commendable that this victory was achieved after Manika had lost the first 3 games of the match and had to win the last 4 games in a row to complete the win. The scoreline read 9-11, 4-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7, 14-12.
Sathiyan also won his men's singles encounter as he thrashed Noshad Alamiyan of Iran 4-0 with the scoreline reading 11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 11-2.
With these wins, Manika and Sathiyan have made it through to the pre-quarterfinals of the women's and men's singles events respectively.
Sharath and Manika will be up against the German pair of Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja in the mixed doubles semi-finals while Sharath along with Sathiyan will be facing the Hungarian pair of Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi in the men's doubles quarterfinals.
Sathiyan will have a tough challenge against the top seed Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan in the men's singles pre-quarters while Manika will be playing her women's singles last 16 tie against Miu Hirano of Japan.
With the Asian qualification event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be held in April, the Indian paddlers would hope to continue their fine form in the Hungarian Open. The confidence gained from here would hold them in good stead at the qualifiers.