The two Indian pairs of Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan, and Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar, earned bronze medals in the men's doubles of the 2021 ITTF Asian Championships.
Indians’ dream of making it to the final of the Asian TT Championships at the Lusail Sports Arena in Doha, Qatar remained wishful thinking on Monday as they lost both semi-finals men’s doubles matches in contrasting styles.
Earlier, late on Sunday, India’s flag-bearer in TT, A Sharath Kamal who became the first Indian to make it to the quarterfinals of the men’s singles event, found it tough to break past World No. 22 Sansu Lee of South Korea. It was the story of the misses and tries again for the World No. 33rd Indian who fought valiantly for 25 minutes before going down 11-8, 11-8, 11-9.
In the men’s doubles semifinals, Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar missed a historic place in the final by mere three points in the decider after stretching the world No. 26 Woojin Jang and Jonghoon Lim of South Korea. The Indians were two sets down and grabbed the next two and were as close as 6-8 in the final set before the top seeds wrapped up the game in their favour 4-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 8-11 in 45 minutes.
In contrast, World No. 33 pair of G Sathiyan and Sharath lost to World No. 14 Yukiya Uda and Shunsuke Togami of Japan in straight sets 5-11, 9-11, 11-13 in 33 minutes.
In doubles events, semifinailist are assured of bronze medal, at least.
The Indian men’s team comprising Sharat, Sathiyan, Harmeet, Manav and Sanil Shetty reached the semifinals to bring home the first medal on Friday.
The Indian women’s team, without their top player Manila Batra, completed their engagements on Sunday with all singles players back in the dressing room after two rounds and the doubles team of Sutirtha and Ayhika Mukherjee reaching the quarterfinals.
Defending champions China and North Korea have skipped due to the Covid-19 pandemic related issues and Indian men’s team were directly seeded to quarterfinals by virtue of their sixth place performance in the 2019 edition at Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Indians beat Iran in the quarterfinals but Koreans stonewalled them in the semifinals despite fighting fiercely.
Young Indian women’s team were forced to play qualification rounds and went on to reach the quarter-final stage and were placed fifth place.
There are reports of India winning three gold medals by Gool Nashikwala in the 1952 Singapore edition when she triumphed in singles, doubles and mixed doubles when Asian meet was held under the erstwhile TT Federation of Asia.
In the 1976 Pyongyang (North Korea) edition and under the current dispensation of Asian TT Union (ATTU) , Manjit Dua and Vilas Menon won a bronze in men’s doubles.
Men’s singles quarter-finals
22-LEE Sangsu KOR bt 33-A Sharath Kamal 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 in 25 minutes
Men’s doubles semi-finals
45-Harmeet Desai/Manav Vikash Thakkar lost to 26-Woojin Jang/Jonghoon Lim of S Korea 4-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 8-11
33-G Sathiyan- A Sharath Kamal lost to 14-Yukiya Uda-Shunsuke Togami of Japan 5-11, 9-11, 11-13
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