2020 Tokyo Olympics: Manika Batra and Sutirtha makes promising start
India’s slim hopes for a table tennis medal in mixed doubles vanished in no time but Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee made promising starts to their women’s singles campaign on Saturday.
The start to India’s table tennis campaign was disappointing with Sharath Kamal and Manika losing 0-4 (11-8, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4) to the third seeds Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching of Taiwan in the mixed doubles round of 16.
However, world No.62 Manika returned to beat 94th-ranked Tin-Tin Ho of Britain 4-0 in her singles opener while 98th-ranked Sutirtha made a strong impression on her Olympics debut with a come-from-behind 4-3 (5-11, 11-9, 11-13, 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-5) win against 78th-ranked Linda Bergstrom of Sweden.
Bengal girl Sutirtha will play Portugal’s Fu Yu in the second round while Manika takes on Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, who is ranked 32.
“The start was a tad difficult for Sutirtha but after the fourth game (when she was down 1-3), we spoke about attacking the forehand of Linda, who’s mainly a chopper.
Things then started falling into place,” national coach Soumyadeep Roy, who also trains Sutirtha personally, told The Telegraph from Tokyo.
Former national champion Poulami Ghatak, who also trains Sutirtha, highlighted the 25-year-old’s self-belief. “Over the last few years, she has her eyes set on featuring among the world’s top 20. Mark my words, she’ll go far.”
The badminton men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty dished out a sensational show to beat the world No. 3 pair of Yang Lee and Chi-Lin Wang of
Taiwan 21-16, 16-21, 27-25 in a group A match.
However, 13th-seeded B. Sai Praneeth suffered a demoralising 17-21, 15-21 loss to world No. 47 Misha Zilberman of Israel in a group D match.
Tennis hope Sumit Nagal became only the third Indian to win a men’s singles match at the Olympics and the first in 25 years, when he edged past Denis Istomin in a three-setter. He now faces a Herculean task as he meets Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev.