Manika Batra falls short at world Olympic TT qualifiers

The Indian table tennis player endured a 4-1 loss in the semi-finals of the World Singles Qualification Tournament in Doha.

By Naveen Peter

Indian table tennis player Manika Batra’s chances of making the Tokyo Olympics suffered a setback following her semi-final loss at the World Singles Qualification Tournament in Doha, Qatar on Monday.

Up against Yang Xiaoxin of Monaco, the 25-year-old Indian struggled for rhythm and eventually succumbed to a 4-1 loss to bow out of the world Olympic qualifiers.

Manika Batra — along with the other Indians — will now look at the Asian qualifying event to book their place at Tokyo 2020, which begins on March 18.

At the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena, Manika Batra was on the money in the opening game as she matched her higher-ranked opponent shot for shot with the two exchanging points in the initial phase. 

While Yang Xiaoxin was decisive with her serves, opting for the quicker ones with a lot of side spin, Manika Batra was vigilant and used her backhand  — a strong suit — to great effect. 

The world No. 44, Yang Xiaoxin rode on her luck to take the opening game 11-9. But she didn’t need any good fortune in the second as the 33-year-old was at her dominant best and had Manika Batra in all sorts of trouble with some quality shot-making. 

Later, Manika Batra showed great awareness to tweak her game and focused on exploiting her opponent’s backhand that helped her take the third game and keep her hopes in the qualifiers alive. 

But Yang Xiaoxin soon got on top as she responded well to close the fourth game 11-4 before winning the match 11-9, 11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9.

Other Indians to enter the world qualifiers, Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sutirtha Mukherjee bowed out the running following their losses on Sunday.

While Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan flattered at the first hurdle, Sutirtha Mukherjee lost out in the quarter-finals on Sunday.