Ahmedabad, Sep 16 (IANS) The Indian challenge at the 30th Asian Cup table tennis tournament came to an end when Manika Batra lost to Miu Hirano of Japan in the quarter-final play-offs of the womens singles category here on Saturday.
Manika produced a spirited fight before losing 7-11, 8-11, 11-8, 6-11 to her World No.6 opponent. She could not sustain the pace and guile of the second seeded Japanese and went down in 20 minutes flat.
Indian coach Massimo Costantini seemed satisfied with the progress of Manika.
“We knew the result, but I must say I am impressed with the way she fought against Hirano,” he said.
In the second quarter-final play-off, Su Hyowon of South Korea accounted for Lee Ho Ching of Hong Kong to enter the main draw.
Meanwhile, top-seeded Liu Shiwen and third seed Zhu Yuling ensured that the women singles crown will remain with the Chinese when they entered the final.
On their way to the final, Liu struggled against Kasumi Ishikawa of Japan before winning 15-13, 11-3, 9-11, 13-11, 9-11, 11-6.
Zhu on the other hand, packed off Hirano in straight games to win 13-11, 11-8, 11-2, 12-10.
Unlike Miu, who had to play three matches on the day, including the playoff challenge round first up, Kausmi had a lot of steam left in her to challenge the supremacy of Liu.
In fact, it started off with the first game where Liu won on the third game point. The struggle continued from the third game but the seasoned Chinese put an end to the ordeal in the sixth to grab the final slot.
Just before that Zhu ensured that her entry was not prolonged, knowing well the capabilities of the 17-year-old Japanese.
Though she won the first game on extended points, Zhu went 3-0 up very quickly. In the fourth, Miu looked like waging some battle but it was not good enough to keep her Chinese opponent at bay.
In the women singles quarter-finals, two matches stood out for tenacity and quality. In the first, Hirano, who had to play her first match in the challenge round, was visibly tired against Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu as the 11th seed played exceptionally well to lead 3-2.
However, the 17-year-old Japanese turned it around by keeping her opponent engaged with long rallies and tiring her out. That was when she went all out and made clever use of flanks to beat the stuffing out of Chen and take the next two games.
But what surprised everyone was the way South Korean Suh Hyowon stretched top-seed and title favourite Liu Shiwen. The Korean played with the patience of the Chinese and, to a large extent, succeeded in her mission.
With her defensive skills coming to the fore, the Korean made things difficult for Liu. Making a lot of unforced errors, she hit the net going for the flat drives.
The players took every alternative game but in the decider Liu called the shots and emerged the deserving winner.
Both Zhu Yuling and Kasumi Ishikawa quickly disposed off their quarter-final opponents, Cheng I-Ching and Doo Hoi Ken, respectively, with an identical 4-0 wins.
The men singles quarter-finals, too, went the same way with Lin Gaoyuan and Fan Zhendogn quickly fixing South Korean Sangeun Jeong and Japanese Jun Mizutani respectively with 4-1 triumphs.
But the other South Korean, Lee Sangsu, had to fight till the end to oust Taipei’s Chaung Chih-Yuan.
In the gripping encounter, the fifth seeded Korean led comfortably at 3-1 but the determined sixth seed from Taipei took the battle from there to equalise, often using his down-the-line backhands to surprise his opponent. However, it was the Korean’s day as he progressed winning the decider with minimal points.
Taipei’s Chen upped the ante in the fifth game to win it 13-11 and replicated it in the next to topple the fourth seed Japanese. Before that, Koki Niwa fought well to first level the score after Chen went 2-1 up.