Both the men’s doubles teams in the fray in the Asian Table Tennis Championships won their respective quarter-final matches with an identical margin, making it to the semi-finals and assuring India two medals in the competition.
Achanta Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan, the higher-ranked team, defeated Chew Zhe Yu Clarence and Beh Kun Ting of Singapore 3-0 in their quarter-final match, winning 11-9, 11-7, 12-10 in just 22 minutes on Sunday.
They were joined in the semis by compatriots Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar, who overcame Alamian Nima and Alamiyan Noshad of Iran 3-0 (12-10, 11-5, 11-6) in 19 minutes.
The women’s pair of Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee went down fighting to Minami Ando and Miyu Nagasaki 2-3 in the quarter-finals. The Indian pair, which had defeated Chen Szu-Yu and Li Yu-Jun of Chinese Taipei 3-1 in the pre-quarters, came back strongly after losing the first two games to level scores at 2-2. But they could not maintain the momentum in the decider as they lost 4-11, 5-11, 11-4, 11-7, 8-11 in the 34-minute encounter.
Sharath and Sathiyan 14 points on their serve and 17 off their opponents’ serve as they cruised to an easy victory. On Saturday, they were taken to five sets by Kazakhastan’s Alan Kurmangaliyev and Kirill Gerassimenko in the pre-quarters. The Indians, however, ended with a hard-fought 3-2 (11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7) win. Desai and Thakkar also sailed to the last eight with convincing wins over Saudi Arabia and Indonesian pairs.
With both the pairs reaching the semi-finals, India are assured of two medals as a place in the semis assures a medal at the Asian Championships. They had already won a bronze in the tournament as part of the team that lost to South Korea in the Men’s Team Competition semis.
Meanwhile, Kamal and Sathiyan kept the Indian flag flying in the singles section too, beating their lower-ranked opponents respectively in the Round of 32 on Sunday.
However, it was the end of the road for both Sanil Shetty and Manav Thakkar in singles as they lost their respective matches.
Sharath, the four-time Olympic veteran, defeated Sokhiri Dzhalil of Tajikistan 3-0 in straight games, winning 11-6, 11-3, 11-4. Whereas, Sathiyan lost a game but came out unscathed beating Ahmad Khalil Al-Mohannadi of Qatar 3-1 (11-2, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9).
Meanwhile, Sanil Shetty went down to Japan’s Shunsuke Togami in a hard-fought match, losing 2-3 after coming back from a game down twice as he ended with a 7-11, 11-9, 13-11, 9-11, 9-11 scoreline. Thakkar took a game off Kazakhstan’s Kiril Gerassimenko as he was beaten 1-3 (10-12, 5-11, 11-8, 13-11).
India faced setbacks in the women’s singles too as Ayhika Mukherjee, Akula Sreeja and Archana Kamath ended their campaign with defeats in Round of 32.
Earlier, Olympian Sutirtha Mukherjee prevailed over Mongolia’s Batmunkh Bolor-Erdene in straight games (11-6, 11-4, 11-4) in the women’s singles to book a place in the round of 32.
Results (Round of 32)
Men’s singles: Sanil Shetty lost to Shunsuke Togami (JPN) 2-3 (7-11, 11-9, 13-11, 9-11, 9-11); Manav Thakkar lost to Kirill Gerassimenko (KAZ) 1-3 (10-12, 5-11, 11-8, 13-11); Achanta Sharath Kamal beat Zokhiri Dzhalil (TJK) 3-0 (11-6, 11-3, 11-4); Sathiyan G beat Ahmad Khalil Al-Mohannadi (QTR) 3-1 (11-2, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9).
Men’s doubles (QF): Sharath Kamal/Sathiyan beat Chew Zhe Yu Clarence/Beh Kun Ting (SIN) 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 12-10); Harmeet Desai/Manav Thakkar beat Alamian Nima/Alamiyan Noshad 3-0 (12-10, 11-5, 11-6).
Women’s Singles: Ayhika Mukherjee lost to Sakr Shibata (JPN) 0-3 (6-11. 5-11, 3-11); Akula Sreeja lost to Doo Hoi Kem (HKG) 0-3 (8-11, 10-12, 4-11); Archana Kamath lost to Shin Yu-Bin (KOR) 0-3 (3-11, 12-14, 6-11).
Women’s doubles (QF): Sutirtha Mukherjee/Ayhika Mukherjee lost to Minami Ando/Miyu Nagasaki (JPN) 2-3 (4-11, 5-11, 11-4, 11-7, 8-11).