Manika Batra through to singles and doubles main draw at Hungarian Open

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist won three qualifying matches, in both singles and doubles, to enjoy a great outing.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Indian table tennis star, Manika Batra, was in top form at the Budapest Olympic Hall as she pulled off three comfortable victories, two in the singles and one in the mixed doubles, to make it to the main draw of the Hungarian Open on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old first played her second preliminary round singles match against Italian Jamila Laurenti and won in five games. Though she lost the first 9-11, Manika Batra dominated the rest, winning them 11-2, 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 to wrap up the tie in just over 11 minutes.

She then hopped to the doubles table to team up with Achanta Sharath Kamal and while the duo did drop one game, they were largely untroubled in their 11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 13-11 win against the Belarusian mixed doubles pair of Aliaksandr Khanin and Daria Trigolos.

The Indian table tennis pair will next face the local team of Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel in the pre-quarters on Thursday.

Manika Batra was not quite done though as she waited for a bit before pulling off her most impressive win of the day, decimating Aikaterini Toliou of Greece 11-6, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 in the final qualifying round of the women’s singles.

The Indian table tennis star kept alternating between the forehand and backhand to keep her opponent guessing and largely stuck to placing her shots down the line instead of going cross-table.

The strategy worked as Aikaterini Toliou committed several errors on her returns to hand Manika Batra the win and give her a ticket to the round of 32.

Manika Batra was ruthless at the Hungarian Open. Photo: ITTF

The only other Indian representative among the women, Sutirtha Mukherjee could not follow her compatriot to the main draw. She did get past Marie Migot in a six-game win but fell in the third qualifying round after a hard-fought 10-12, 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 5-11, 11-13 loss to Dutchwoman Britt Eerland.

Men keep doubles hopes alive

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Harmeet Desai, Manav Thakkar and Achanta Sharath Kamal made it to the main draw of the men’s doubles after contrasting wins at the Hungarian Open on Wednesday.

The pair of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the latter playing his first match of the tournament, won 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4 against the Turkish team of Ibrahim Gunduz and Abdullah Yigenler.

They were joined in the main draw by young compatriots, Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar, who followed up their comfortable win on Tuesday with a grinding 11-7, 8-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8 win over Swedes Truis Moregard and Jon Persson.

Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar played out a five-game thriller in the final qualifying round of the men's doubles. Photo: ITTF

However, Achanta Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai could not progress to the men’s singles main draw as the former fell in the first hurdle, losing 9-11, 8-11, 12-10, 9-11, 6-11 to Austrian Stefan Fegerl.

Harmeet Desai did win the third preliminary qualifying match against Chien-An Chen in a second-consecutive seven-game tie but later lost 8-11, 11-7, 5-11, 4-11, 11-13 to Poland’s Jakub Dyjas in the final qualifying round.

What next for Indian table tennis at the Hungarian Open

The top-ranked Indian table tennis player on the ITTF circuit, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will play his first singles match on Thursday in the round of 32 after getting a direct entry into the main draw.

He will also be playing the men’s doubles alongside Achanta Sharath Kamal in the pre-quarters, as will the team of Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar.

The Indian table tennis veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal will also play a second match as he teams up with Manika Batra in the mixed doubles’ pre-quarters. The latter will also be seen in action in the women’s singles round of 32 on Thursday.

Where you can watch the Hungarian Open

Fans can watch the live stream of the Hungarian Open on the official ITTF website, ittf.com.