What's the story?
India's men's doubles pair of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan reached the final of the 2020 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Hungarian Open after knocking out the top seeds in the semi-finals.
In case you didn't know
The 2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open is being held at Budapest, Hungary. The tournament started with the preliminary qualifying event on 18th and 19th February with the main draw being held from 20th to 23rd February.
The Indian paddlers participated in all the events (men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles) at the tournament. Other than Sathiyan in the men's singles, all the Indian players across events had to qualify for the main draw through the qualifying event.
Heart of the matter
India's ace men's doubles pair of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan has reached the final of the 2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open. In the semi-finals, they caused a major upset by knocking out the top-seeded pair of Kwan Kit Ho and Chun Ting Wong representing Hong Kong.
The unseeded Indian pair, who had to come through the qualifiers, won the match 11-7, 12-10, 4-11, 4-11, 11-9. Sharath-Sathiyan won the close-fought first two games but the Hong Kong pair bounced back to take the next 2 games easily to take the match to the decider. The Indians held their nerve in the final game to win 11-9, thereby knocking out the fancied top seeds.
After the win, Sharath expressed happiness as they had defeated the Hong Kong pair for the first time.
“Generally both of us are quite emotional and expressive, it just pumps us up and gives us confidence. It is also the first time we have beaten Wong and Ho, so personally I am very happy.”
Sathiyan went on to add that it was a good start of the year for them and hoped that they would be able to get India's first-ever doubles title on the World tour.
“Happy to be playing as a pair again and very happy to start off the year like this and hope we can win the first ever doubles title for India in the world tour!”
Earlier in the day, the Indian pair had defeated the home nation combination of Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi in straight games 11-8, 11-7, 11-8.
Unfortunately, it was not a good day for the Indians in the other events as all of them were knocked out. Sharath and Manika Batra lost their mixed doubles semi-finals to the German pair of Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja 6-11, 8-11, 6-11.
Sathiyan and Manika were knocked out in the men's and women's singles pre-quarterfinals. Sathiyan lost to top seed Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan 8-11, 5-11, 4-11, 8-11 while Manika also lost to her Japanese opponent Miu Hirano 9-11, 1-11, 7-11, 7-11.
Sharath and Sathiyan will be facing the second-seeded German pair of Benedikt Duda and Patrick Franziska in the final. Having lost to Patrick and partner in the mixed doubles semi-finals, Sharath will hope to make amends for it in the men's doubles final.
With the 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifiers coming up in little over a month, the excellent performance of the Indian paddlers at the Hungarian Open would have given them a lot of confidence ahead of the critical qualifiers.