Manika Batra, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran carry India at Hungarian Open

The Hungarian Open saw four of India’s five entries progress to the next round on Thursday.

By Sandeep Banerjee ·

Indian table tennis players Manika Batra, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sharath Kamal starred for their side at the Hungarian Open on Thursday, playing a part in four of their country’s five wins.

Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran each partook in two matches with the former winning both her singles and mixed doubles matches. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, meanwhile, did the honours in both men's singles doubles.

No mixed fortunes in mixed doubles

World no. 34 Sharath Kamal got India off to a winning start alongside Asian Games bronze medalist Manika Batra, beating the local duo of Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel in their mixed doubles round-of-16 match.

Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra held the upper hand for most of the opening game, leading by as many as four points before winning 11-8. 

However, Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel mounted a comeback in the second game to win 11-9 and carried that form into the third game, where Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra saw an early three-point lead unravel into a 6-11 loss.

Much to the dismay of the local crowd, Kamal and Batra halted the Hungarian pair’s hopes of wrapping up the match in the fourth game by equalising the score with a 11-9 win and setting up the crucial fifth game.

With some clinical smashes, Manika Batra led the charge, helping her side lead 4-1 in points won on opponents’ serve, en route to an 11-7 victory.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Sharath Kamal prevail in men’s doubles

Meanwhile, in the men's doubles competition at the Hungarian Open, two pairings, that of Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar, and Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, competed for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar’s challenge got off to a poor start, with the Hong Kong pairing of Siu Hang Lam and Pak Nam Ng winning the first two games 13-11, 11-8. The Indian table tennis duo did mount a fightback in the next two games, winning 13-11, 11-6, but fell apart in the crucial fifth game, with just two points to their opponents' 11.

For Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, though, it was the other way around. Having won the first two games 11-6, 11-8, the Indian table tennis duo lost the next two 8-11, 9-11. 

However, they peaked when it mattered, winning the deciding fifth game 11-9 to move on to the quarter-finals.

Successful double-duty for Manika Batra

As the singles rounds rolled around, it was Manika Batra up first, against Chinese Taipei’s Szu-Yu Chen in the Hungarian Open women’s singles round-of-32.

In what was a closely fought contest, Manika Batra lost the first three games 9-11, 4-11, 7-11, but then, the World No. 26 Chen suffered a losing streak of her own, allowing Batra to win the next three games 12-10, 11-9, 11-7.

Finally, it was Indian table tennis ace Manika Batra who prevailed in the decider, winning 14-12 and sealing up the match 4-3.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran’s singles cakewalk

If Manika Batra’s singles match was a nailbiter, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran’s was a complete walkover.

World no. 30 Sathiyan Gnanasekaran had the measure of Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan from the get-go. With a lead as high as nine points at one stage, Sathiyan racked up the points incessantly, winning the match 11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 11-2.

What’s next for India at the Hungarian Open

On Friday, Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will look to continue their charge in the men’s doubles competition, as they take on local favourites Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi in the quarter-final.

After that, the Indian table tennis pair of Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will both face off in their singles round-of-16 matches against Japanese opponents in Miu Hirano and Tomokazu Harimoto respectively.