World Table Tennis Contender | Manika surmounts Sreeja’s challenge, enters semifinals

To take on Elizabet Abraamian in semifinals; Harmeet-Manav beaten

Manika Batra had to dig deep to outlast Sreeja Akula 7-11, 11-1, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6 in the women’s singles quarterfinals of the World Table Tennis Contender Budapest here on Thursday. Manika will take on Elizabet Abraamian of Russia in the semifinals.

Players of similar styles with pimpled rubber on the backhand, Manika and Sreeja dished out an entertaining contest of top quality.

It was the 23-year-old Sreeja who came out all guns blazing. Be it her forehand top-spins or her backhand jabs and pushes, Sreeja was unfazed by her opponent’s reputation.

Pushed on to the backfoot, Manika, ranked 60th and seeded sixth, made numerous errors. Trailing 1-2, Manika showed her fighting qualities in the fourth game. Down 4-9, the 2018 Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist took the next five points to level 9-9 before pocketing the game on her third game point. With her confidence back, Manika attacked with impunity, taking a 9-5 lead before closing out the match.

Sathiyan-Manika in final

G. Sathiyan and Manika outclassed the Belarussian pair of Aleksandr Khanin and Daria Trigolos, seeded fourth, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 to enter the mixed doubles final — the duo’s first ever at a global event. They will meet the Hungarians, Nandor Ecseki and Dora Madarasz, in the summit clash.

Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar went down to Vladimir Sidorenko & Kirill Skachkov of Russia in the men’s doubles semifinals.

Indian results: Women’s quarterfinal: Manika Batra bt Sreeja Akula 7-11, 11-1, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6.

Mixed doubles (semifinals): G. Sathiyan & Manika Batra bt Aleksandr Khanin & Daria Trigolos (Blr) 11-6, 11-5, 11-4.

Men’s doubles (semifinals): Harmeet Desai & Manav Thakkar lost to Vladimir Sidorenko & Kirill Skachkov of Russia 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6.

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