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Defeating Manika Batra was highlight of my UTT season: Madhurika Patkar

Ashish Mani Tiwari

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Madhurika Patkar.

New Delhi: She was one of new Ultimate Table Tennis champions Chennai Lions’ star players. Apart from her team’s glory, it was her head-to-head victory over Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manika Batra that pleased Madhurika Patkar immensely.

Patkar was impressive in her 3-0 victory over Mavericks Kolkata in a UTT group stage match, helping Chennai win the match 11-4.

While that was part of Chennai’s triumphant run in the campaign, Madhurika reckons her personal moment of glory was against Batra.

“During that match against Manika, I had some other energy, also during preparations before the match, I focused on enhancing top-spins and fore hands, which really worked during the game,” Maduhrika told Sports Lounge.

“And beating Manika 3-0, yes it was the highlight of performance in the whole tournament so far.”

The loss to Patkar stung Batra too. She expressed her disappointment over her performance and said, “Yes my performance is not as good as if compared to 2018 season.”

Patkar has been a consistent performer for the Lions this seasn, especially against some formidable players like  Puneri Paltan’s Sabine Winter.

Her performance against Goa Challengers’ Archana Kamath was equally noteworthy. The match went into the deciding third game.

Patkar led 10-6 and had four match points. Kamath rallied back and further and the match was decided via the golden point, where Patkar held her nerves to win.

When asked about her gains from UTT, the 32-year-old said, “Alongside the techniques and styles, I have learned that foreign players keep on competing till the last point and they are always  motivated to remain fit. Now I know how to keep my performance levels up under pressure.”

Talking about her future goals, Patkar said, “Initially my target is to play well at the Asian Championships in March, 2020. We will undergo a training camp in China to prepare for the tournament. I will also be preparing 2020 Tokyo Olympics and hope to maintain the momentum I have gained at UTT.”

Known for her backhand counter strokes, the World No. 132 acquired the reputation of a match finisher at UTT. She hopes her new found confidence will now be her latest weapon in addition to her enhanced skill and style.

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Sharath led Chennai Lions lifts UTT trophy 2019

Ashish Mani Tiwari

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Chennai Lions with the UTT 2019 trophy

New Delhi: An authoritative display from Sharath Kamal helped Chennai Lions thump Dabang Delhi in the final to win the Ultimate Table Tennis Season 3 title here today.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran led Dabang Delhi was off the mark since from the inception of the final. Sharath Kamal along with Germany’s Petrissa Solja in the Mixed Doubles thrashed Delhi 8-1. Chennai cantered to the required 8 tie points in the first three matches itself, consigning the final two to the dustbin.

The Lions’ foreign imports, Germany’s Petrissa Solja and Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, proved to be the stars of the grand finale, taming Bernadatte Szocs 2-1 and Sathiyan G 3-0 to take a formidable, and clearly unbeatable, lead.

Sharath and Petrissa then put up a master class in the Mixed Doubles, collating the last 3 needed points with utmost ease to clinch the title.

“This is an amazing win,” an exultant Sharath said after the victory. “We played near flawless table tennis and came up with the perfect plan for the final,” he added.

Rio Olympics silver medallist Petrissa Solja gave Chennai a flying start, decimating Bernadatte in the opening Women’s Singles. Taking advantage of an off-colour opponent, Petrissa raced away to a 5-2 lead in the opening set, and then bagged six straight points to pocket it 11-5.

A similar script followed in the second set too, with Solja wrapping it up 11-4 to the dismay of Bernadatte.

The Romanian, however, recovered in the final set, fetching a crucial point for Delhi. Down 0-2, she clawed her way back to take a handy 8-5 lead before sealing it 11-9.

In the opening Men’s Singles, Tiago came up with an inspired performance, walloping the higher-ranked Delhi captain Sathiyan 11-6, 11-7, 11-9.

World No. 71 Tiago showcased an array of shots to leave Sathiyan scampering around the table. Sathiyan struggled to find his rhythm, allowing Tiago to open up a 4-1 lead in the first set. The Portuguese made it 8-3 and then 11-6, to give Chennai the first whiff of a big victory.

The second set saw some amazing exchanges, with Sathiyan relying on his quickness near the table to extract points. Tiago was, however, quick on his feet and had answers to almost everything thrown at him. He won the second set 11-7 and the last one 11-9.

An ecstatic Tiago did a Sharath, jumping over the side boards to celebrate his tie-winning effort.

Sharath and Petrissa were in a different league in the Mixed Doubles, picking up points almost at will. Sharath played calmly, cutting down on unforced errors to make it easier for the pair.

Sathiyan and Bernadatte simply had no weapons left to fight back into the contest, perhaps still recovering from the thriller two days back. They lost 7-11, 2-11, 3-11 to allow Chennai Lions to roar in delight.

Results

Chennai Lions beat Dabang Delhi TTC 8-1

 

Women’s Singles: Petrissa Solja beat Bernadette Szocs 2-1 (11-5, 11-4, 9-11)

Men’s Singles: Tiago Apolonia beat Sathiyan G. 3-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-9)

Mixed Doubles: Sharath Kamal / Petrissa Solja bt Sathiyan G. / Bernadette Szocs 3-0 (11-7, 11-2, 11-3)

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UTT: Chennai Lions to take on Dabang Delhi in final

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Sharath Kamal with Germany’s Petrissa Solja in their mixed doubles match.

New Delhi: An explosive display by Sharath Kamal brought Chennai Lions back from the dead here on Saturday, earning himself and his team a date with Dabang Delhi in the final of the Ultimate Table Tennis.

India’s top star Sharath, looking positive and confident in his trademark bandana despite the 1-5 deficit, collected three points with Germany’s Petrissa Solja in mixed doubles and returned to win two more against Amalraj Anthony in a tense reverse men’s singles clash.

That set the stage for two young ladies from India, Madhurika Patkar and Archana Kamath, to step into the spotlight. Needing two points from the last tie, both went for broke and produced yet another exhilarating finish in the semifinals.

Madhurika easily lost the first set 6-11 but showed remarkable poise and confidence to spurt to a 9-1 lead in the second. But Archana clawed back to 6-9 before fading away. In the decider too, Madhurika looked set for an easy win at 9-5 and 10-6.

But Archana saved four match points to take this semifinal to the golden point too. It, however, proved to be Madhurika’s day, who forced Archana into a mistake, taking Chennai Lions into the title round.

In the opening Women’s Singles, Taiwan’s Cheng I-Ching brought her A game to the table, coming back twice from behind to overpower Germany’s Petrissa Solja 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 for a 3-0 early lead for Goa.

Petrissa, placed 24th in world rankings, raced ahead in the first set and again in the third, but Cheng drew upon her experience to negate the advantage on both occasions. Cheng launched a strong comeback and displayed some exquisite shots en route to her crucial win.

In the men’s singles, Goa’s Alvaro Robles (No. 84) took the first set from a higher-ranked Tiago Apolonia (No. 71) on the golden point. Apolonia fought back in the second to register Chennai’s first point. The third proved to be a visual delight, with Tiago attacking vigorously and Alvaro defending gamely.

Alvaro was in the zone, simply retrieving everything and unnerving Tiago. The Portuguese wilted under the pressure and lost the third 3-11 to give Goa a massive 5-1 advantage.

Sharath entered the fray at this stage, and riding on his potent forehand, turned the tie around. He and Petrissa won the first two sets comfortably 11-5, 11-4.

The third one, suddenly, became tense as Amalraj Anthony-Cheng I-Ching got their act together. The scores moved mostly on serve, all the way till 8-8 before Sharath orchestrated the next 3 points.

In the reverse Men’s Singles, a charged up Amalraj broke away from Sharath at 4-4 and pocketed the first tie11-5 . Sharath came into his own in the second, moving to 6-3 quickly. He capitalised on that to take a crucial point for his side.

The third set was a humdinger, with the match fluctuating from one team to the other. Sharath took a handy 4-1 lead but a series of mistakes saw Amalraj jump ahead 6-4. He inched away to 9-8 before Sharath cooled down to whip out three straight winners.

Results: Chennai Lions beat Goa Challengers 8-7

 Women’s Singles: Petrissa Solja lost to Cheng I-Ching 0-3 (7-11, 9-11, 8-11)

Men’s Singles: Tiago Apolonia lost to Alvaro Robles 1-2 (10-11, 11-6, 3-11)

Mixed Doubles: Sharath Kamal / Petrissa Solja bt Amalraj Anthony / Cheng I-Ching 3-0 (11-5, 11-4, 11-8)

Men’s Singles: Sharath Kamal bt Amalraj Anthony 2-1 (5-11, 11-9, 11-10)

Women’s Singles: Madhurika Patkar beat Archana Kamath 2-1 (6-11, 11-8, 11-10)

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Table Tennis

Lack of guidance could hurt Indian TT players at 2020 Olympics: Costantini

Ashish Mani Tiwari

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Massimo Costantini says India's preparations not ideal of for the Olympics.

New Delhi: Tokyo Olympics is just a year away but India’s table tennis new coach Dejan Papic is yet to join the national team. This doesn’t augur well for the team and former head coach Massimo Costantini expressed his concern over the whole issue.

“Even four years isn’t enough. It is a very long and slow process. I believe Indian players have a good chance to qualify. If I were the coach, I would advise to keep expectations low. Like I did at the 2018 Asian Games – and those results were fantastic. You have to be ready and go for it- you never know something magical might happen,” Costantini told Sports Lounge. He was in New Delhi for the ongoing Ultimate Table Tennis.

Talking about the development of Indian players since his departure from the team he said, “Surely, lack of guidance is a major problem. Being alone can be a weakness. Planning, guidance, and support are very important for players. So I admire the Indian players that they are performing so well in spite of that.”

“Manav, Sathiyan and Manika are doing very well. Sathiyan has a fantastic chance of qualifying for the Olympic.  In fact I feel Olympic is easier. The world championships have more Chinese, Japanese and Korean competitors. Here there is a lesser number. So technically, Sathiyan has a great chance,” he added.

Under Costantini, India made spectacular performances at various events including historic performances at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games, where India ended a 60-year-wait for a table tennis medal.

When asked about which category among singles, doubles and mixed doubles does India have a better chance of grabbing a medal in Tokyo, Massimo observed, “Doubles are very unpredictable, that’s the problem. But Manika and Sharath have an edge for sure.

“They have the authority to be promising candidates. If you are able to achieve one stage – you can do it again so it is all about the mindset. They have to be ready.”

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