Tokyo: India’s glimmer of hope for a table tennis medal at the Tokyo Olympics vanished in no time with Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra losing to third seeds from Chinese Taipei, Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching, in the mixed doubles Round of 16 on Saturday.
The Indians had to make all chances count against a superior opponent but they couldn’t do so after leading 5-1 and 5-3 in the first two games. In the end, it was a comfortable 11-8, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 win for the Chinese Taipei pairing.
The power of 19-year-old Lin from both flanks was too much to handle for the 12th seeded pairing of Sharath and Manika, who came into the Olympics having won the qualifying competition.
The Indians had no answer to Lin’s bullet-like tops-spin drives from both forehand and backhand.
Manika did trouble Lin and Cheng whenever she could use her long pimpled rubber but the Chinese Taipei duo had come well prepared and did not let the top women’s paddler to play her game.
The Indians had to make the 5-1 lead count in the first game to have any chance in the match but Lin and Cheng won eight points in a row to gain control.
Sharath and Manika had practised together for just three days in the national camp before boarding the flight to Tokyo.
With their performance in the qualifying event, the Asian Games bronze medallists had raised hopes of a historic medal at the Olympics.]
Manika and Sutirtha Mukherjee will play their women’s singles first round matches later on Saturday.