Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran’s semi-final win in the men’s doubles match was India’s highlight at the Hungarian Open on Friday.
The Indian table tennis pair won their men's doubles quarter-final match, defeating Hungarian duo Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi 11-8, 11-7, 11-8.
Then, in the afternoon, they were up against the Hong Kong pairing of Kwan Kit Ho and Chun Ting Wong in the men's doubles semi-final.
After the Indian table tennis pairing won the first game 11-7, it looked like the Hong Kong duo would take the second. However, they conceded their game point, and the Indians then wasted no time in converting a two-point deficit to a 12-10 win.
The Hong Kong duo experienced no such problems over the next two games, though, which they won 11-4, 11-4, but Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran prevailed in the final set 11-9.
Manika Batra fails to make singles quarter-final
World no. 11 Miu Hirano of Japan was the favourite going into her round-of-16 match against 67th-ranked Manika Batra. On the last two occasions the two faced each other, it was Batra at the losing end, and Friday proved no different.
From the outset, the 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist struggled to find her groove. Manika Batra's attacking mindset from Thursday was nowhere to be seen and she lost the first game 9-11.
In the second game, the Indian table tennis ace's returns were finding the net with alarming regularity and she could only score a solitary point en route to a 1-11 loss.
Despite her reach advantage, Manika Batra struggled with Hirano's cross-table shots and fell 7-11, 7-11 in the last two games on her way out of women's singles contention at the Hungarian Open.
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran squanders singles chance
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran could not emulate his doubles success in the men's singles competition later in the day.
After enjoying a straight-games triumph on Thursday to make his way into Friday's round of 16, he suffered a straight-games loss to world No. 5 Tomokazu Harimoto.
In a match that saw Harimoto enjoy a seven-point lead at one point, the Japanese paddler swept aside Sathiyan Gnanasekaran's challenge with a 11-8, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 win to move on to the quarter-final.
Sharath Kamal-Manika Batra settle for bronze
Despite the women’s singles loss earlier, Manika Batra still had another chance to stay in the Hungarian Open by way of her mixed doubles semi-final match alongside Sharath Kamal. The duo had gotten a walkover in their scheduled quarter-final against second-seeded Japanese pairing of Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito, following Mizutani's pullout on account of a neck injury suffered during his singles event.
Unfortunately for the Indian table tennis duo, Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja ended their hopes with a clinical 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 victory, leaving Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra to settle for bronze.
What’s next for India at the Hungarian Open
With both the men's and women's singles, as well as the mixed doubles’ challenges, fizzling out, Indian table tennis fans will have all hopes riding on Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran on Saturday.
The duo will face Germany's Benedikt Duda and Patrick Franziska in the men’s doubles final at the Hungarian Open in an effort to win India's first-ever doubles title.
Where to watch the 2020 Hungarian Open
Live feed of the Hungarian Open matches can be enjoyed on the ITTF website. The men’s doubles final can be viewed by clicking on the Table 1 stream link on the website at 1:20 AM IST on Sunday.