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Manika-Sathiyan make winning return with Budapest title

August 20, 2021 20:02 IST

IMAGE: Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran outplayed Hungary's Dora Madarasz and Nandor Ecseki 3-1 to win the mixed doubles title. Photograph: SAI Media/Twitter

India's Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran tasted instant success on their return as a mixed doubles pairing by winning the title at the WTT Contender in Budapest on Friday.

 

The Indian duo, who had last played together in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, outplayed Hungary's Dora Madarasz and Nandor Ecseki 3-1 to win the mixed doubles title. They beat the 94th-ranked Hungarian pairing 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6.

It was a memorable win for Manika and Sathiyan, who have reunited on a positive note and plan to take their partnership to the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Manika had won the Asian Games bronze with veteran Sharath Kamal and, more recently, they played together at the Tokyo Olympics.

Sathiyan said it was a tricky final but their toughest challenge came in the quarterfinals when they upset the world number seven duo from Slovakia -- Barbara Balazova and Lubomir Pistej -- in the quarter-finals.

"It is great that we were able to win the event with very little practice. It certainly shows what we can achieve as a pair. We were quite tactically and seem to complement each other's game.

"Manika had me approached for the partnership a while. We both thought it was the best time to give it a shot. She is our  best ever female player and we have shown the potential that our partnership has. The more we play the better we get," Sathiyan said.

Sathiyan will play in the Czech Open later this week while Manika will head back home. Another big event coming up is the Asian Championships in September-October.

Manika, ranked 60th in singles, had done well to reach the semi-finals. Another impressive performance came from 150th-ranked Indian Sreeja Akula, whom Manika defeated in the quarters.

It was also a welcome result for Sathiyan following his opening round loss in the singles competition of the Tokyo Olympics.

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