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Manika Batra Becomes First Indian To Reach Asian Cup Table Tennis Semifinals

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Bangkok, Nov 18 (PTI): Star paddler Manika Batra on Friday became the first Indian to reach the semifinals of the Asian Cup Table Tennis tournament with a 4-3 win over higher ranked Chen Szu-Yu of Chinese Taipei here.

World number 44 Manika beat Chen, ranked 23rd in the ITTF chart, 6-11 11-6 11-5 11-7 8-11 9-11 11-9 in a hard-fought women’s singles quarterfinal match at the Hua Mak Indoor Stadium.
Manika has already ensured the best finish by an Indian in the 39-year-old history of the Asian Cup, after Achanta Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan had finished sixth in 2015 and 2019 respectively.

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The ace Indian paddler had earlier shocked world No. 7 Chen Xingtong of China in a round of 16 match on Thursday.
Manika will meet world number five and second seed Mima Ito of Japan in the semifinals on Saturday. The other semifinal will be played between world number four Wang Yidi of China and Hina Hayata (world number six) of Japan.
The USD 200,000 event features the top 16 players in the men’s and women’s singles from the continent based on world rankings and qualifications.

Manika had the right measure of her Chinese Taipei opponent, despite losing the first game to register her second win in the tournament.
With Friday’s win, the unseeded Manika improved her win-loss record against the Taipei paddler to 2-4.
“She (Szu-Yu ) is a great player. I lost to her in the World Championships (Team) recently. But this time, I changed my strategies, and they paid off. Today’s win has given me confidence and I will play with all focus back tomorrow,” said Manika.
After a scratchy first game, Manika took control of the match and dictated terms against her higher-ranked opponent.

The Indian got everything going for her — the blocks, the placements, the backhand and forehand scorchers and the cross-court shots.
With run-away hits in the second, third and fourth games, Manika surged to a 3-1 lead. But a time-out in the fifth at 7-7 brought the Taipei woman back in the game and she went on to win it 11-8.

Manika should have killed the match in the next when she led 8-5. But Szu-Yu closed the gap to be a point behind, forcing Manika to take a time-out.
On her return to the table, the Indian managed to go ahead 9-7, but on Manika’s serve, the Taipei player levelled 9-9 and finished the game off in style to level the match 3-3.
In the decider, Szu-Yu took four points on the trot from 2-2 to go up 6-4, a two-point lead and a distinct advantage. But, Manika fought back after the change of sides to make it 7-7 and held two match points at 10-8.

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But the sixth-seed Szu-Yu managed one more point before Manika shut her out, claiming the last point.
Meanwhile, men’s singles first-round losers G Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal, who finished in the 9-16 position brackets, will receive USD 2,250 each.

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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