Indian table tennis star Manika Batra was off to a comfortable start at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open with fine wins in her opening rounds of the preliminary stages at the Eriksdalshallen Stadium in Stockholm.
The Indian ace breezed though her initial two rounds without much fuss, beating her opponents in straight games.
Up against local hope Hannah Holgersson in the first preliminary round tie, Batra showed her class from the very beginning as she barely allowed her opponent any hold on the match. Though Holgersson came close to winning the opening game, Batra maintained her composure to get past the trouble and win the first game 12-10.
From there on, there was no looking back as the 24-year-old Indian didn’t let the Swede any grasp of the tie wrapping up the match with the scoreline reading 12-10, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8.
Her second preliminary round tie too followed a similar pattern. Up against the world number 58 Dora Madarasz of Hungary, though Batra was pushed to the limit in the opening game, she came out trumps 14-12 to go ahead.
From there on, the Indian dictated terms as she won the next three games 11-5, 11-7, 11-6, beating an opponent ranked 21 places above her in the world rankings chart.
Batra will next take on Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto in the third round, with a win assuring her of a place in the main draw.
Gnanasekaran bows out
While Batra kept her hopes of making it to the main draw alive with a few fine victories, her compatriot Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was not at his best as he bowed out in the second round of the preliminary stage.
Up against Alexandre Cassin, the top-ranked Indian paddler endured a rather off day as he went down fighting to the Frenchman ranked below him.
Cassin registered an 11-7, 11-8, 11-5, 5-11, 11-2 win over Gnanasekaran to keep his hopes of making it into the main draw alive.