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Neha Aggarwal: "Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran can win a medal in Commonwealth Games 2022" 

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra in action. (PC: WTT)
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra in action. (PC: WTT)
Hari Kishore M

Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran have forged a stupendous mixed doubles partnership in Indian table tennis history. The duo, who have excellent command over the game and good performances, have climbed to seventh in the world rankings - a first for any Indian pair.

A good showing in the new Olympic cycle is always a welcome sign. However, doing well in the current Olympic cycle is a notch above for two reasons - one, it is an action-packed year with the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games apart from a host of important table tennis tournaments and, two, we are in the midst of a shortened Olympic cycle.

Former table tennis player and Olympian Neha Aggarwal said the ascendancy of Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran in mixed doubles is pleasing to watch. In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Neha said the duo complemented each other's game very well.

"We have always lacked a good female player in mixed doubles and this pair has bridged that gap. Earlier, in mixed doubles, the players were not able to finish the rallies to their advantage, going behind the second or fourth balls and taking up the advantage. Now, Manika brings that to the table. She can give Sathiyan a good ball so that he can initiate an attack, a trait he is strong with. Manika also complements Sathiyan by closing out the rallies, winning points and taking the pressure out," Neha explained.

Read: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran-Manika Batra win silver, Sharath Kamal finishes with bronze in WTT Contender Doha 2022

Neha said Sathiyan's game knowledge and his awareness of the situation sets him apart from the rest. This trait has also been an important factor in the duo's success.

"Sathiyan is a very smart player. He has good game awareness and understands the rubber very well. They both have a complete game and the pair can come up with surprises on the table," she added.

Long way to go for Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

Both Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran moved into the limelight in a short span of time. They first teamed up for the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and won the bronze medal, beating the Indian pair of Mouma Das and Achanta Sharath Kamal in the play-off match.

With the 2022 edition of the Commonwealth Games around the corner, expectations from the pair have sky rocketed and their performances have backed up the expectations.

"Sathiyan and Manika Batra will definitely look to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games. The expectations are definitely there. The color of the medal will depend on the performance, but a medal looks likely on the way. The pair should do well at the Commonwealth Games," she said.

However, Neha opined that both Manika Batra and Sathiyan have a long way to go before they can be the best in the business.

"Of course, we still have a long way to go. There are technical aspects that they have to be working on. Individually, the two are in the 40s and 50s in the world rankings, which means there is some work to be done so that they can move higher. They have to cut down on their unforced errors, they have to be consistent and the tempo must be maintained too," she said.

Also read: Keerthana Swaminathan: The sports science and exercise psychologist behind paddlers


Edited by Steffi

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