India’s chances at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open came to an end after ace paddler Manika Batra lost a closely fought preliminary round three tie at the Eriksdalshallen Stadium in Stockholm. The Indian bowed out to Japnese Honoka Hashimoto 10-12, 5-11, 6-11, 11-13.
Riding on her dominant wins in the competition earlier, Batra began her third-round game on an aggressive note. The 24-year-old mixed her shots well as she kept her opponent guessing through the opening exchanges to open a 5-1 lead.
While Batra was the aggressive one, Hashimoto was the composed one as she dug deep into her area and used her forehand underspin to great effect to negate Batra’s powerful smashes. Though it took her some time to get a hand of the pace and spin on the ball, once the Japanese was settled, it was hard to get anything out of her.
World number 36 Hashimoto kept her rhythm and frustrated Batra into committing errors on her return that eventually handed her the opening game.
Hashimoto had a firm handle on the match as it progressed as she called the shots with her splendid retrieving skills.
The Japanese would stay deep and ensure that she kept the ball on the table while Batra would go for the finish in a hurry, failing to read the spin on the ball time and again.
Though the Indian switched her tactics midway through the third game, her hunt for some valuable points saw her commit costly errors.
Never say die
The fourth game too followed a similar pattern as Hashimoto raced to a 10-4 lead in no time, Batra was far from done as she rallied valiantly to take her opponent by surprise.
While the Japanese took long between her serves to try and disturb Batra’s rhythm, the Indian was having none of it as she kept her focus and soon unleashed a forehand drive to win a crucial point.
Batra’s fight, however, didn’t last long as Hashimoto wrapped it all up with a 13-11 win in the fourth game to take the match 4-0.
Later, Batra paired up with Archana Kamath in the women’s doubles and lost out in the second round to Britt Eerland and Jiao Li of the Netherlands (11-5, 4-11, 5-11, 11-5, 12-14). Kamath and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran bowed out of the mixed doubles after their loss to Padasak Tanviriyavechakul and Suthasini Sawettabut of Thailand 8-11, 9-11, 8-11.