The Indian mixed doubles pair of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra stormed into the mixed doubles final of the WTT Contender Budapest table tennis event with a convincing win over Aleksandr Khanin and Daria Trigolos of Belarus on Thursday.
G Sathiyan and Manika Batra, who have enjoyed a good run at the WTT Contender event so far, continued their fine form as they registered a dominating 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-4) win to become the first Indians -- singles or doubles -- to enter the final at an WTT Contender series event.
They will take on local hope Nandor Ecseki and Dora Madarasz for the title next. The Hungarians beat Kirill Skachkova and Olga Vorobeva of Russia 3-0 (11-5, 11-9, 11-8) to seal their place in the title match.
Kirill Skachkova, however, kept his campaign alive in men’s doubles. He, along with partner Vladimir Sidorenko, beat the Indian pair of Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar 3-1 (11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6) to move into the final.
Later, in the women’s singles, Manika Batra had to dig deep to move into the semi-finals.
In an all-Indian contest, Manika Batra beat Sreeja Akula 3-2 (7-11, 11-1, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6). At one stage, Batra was staring at an exit, trailing 6-9 in the fourth game with Sreeja enjoying a 2-1 overall lead.
But the experienced Manika Batra turned the tables on her young opponent with some decisive shots to win the tie. She will face Russian table tennis player Elizabet Abraamian next.
The WTT Contender Series is a part of the revamped ITTF calendar launched this year and features two tiers of events -- WTT Star Contender and WTT Contender. The events carry world ranking points that help players to progress through the new structure into WTT Champions and Grand Smash events.