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Olympics TT: Sharath advances to third round; Manika loses

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Harish Kotian
Last updated on: July 26, 2021 17:54 IST
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IMAGE: Sharath Kamal bounced back after losing the opening game to to beat Portugal's Tiago Apolonia in the men's singles second round at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

India's Sharath Kamal overcame a sluggish start to beat Portugal's Tiago Apolonia in the men's singles second round, but the women's challenge ended with Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee losing to superior opponents at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.

 

The 39-year-old Sharath struggled in the first game but pulled himself up just in time to win 2-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9 in 49 minutes and set up a third round clash with defending champion Ma Long of China on Tuesday.

Later in the day, Manika's impressive campaign in the women's singles came to an end with a 0-4 loss to 10th seed Sofia Polcanova in the third round.

The Indian table tennis star, who had stunned world No. 32 on Sunday, did not have the game to challenge the attacking left-hander from Austria.

Sharath, the only Indian left in the fray, will have his task cut out against reigning Olympic champion Long.

Arguably the greatest player of all-time, Long has won every singles title in the sport, and is the reigning World champion as well.

IMAGE: Manika Batra's impressive campaign in the women's singles came to an end with a 0-4 loss to 10th seed Sofia Polcanova in the third round. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

However, the 32-ranked Sharath's impressive show against his 59th-ranked opponent has given him immense confidence going into the Round of 32 match against the mighty Chinese.

"I think it was one of the best matches I have played. The first game I don't know what happened, I could not connect bat with ball, I was all over the place. From there I could lift myself up.

"My opponent expected a different Sharath but I surprised him with my backhand, which was fantastic. All the work I have done on my backhand for the last six month paid off."

Sharath is known for his booming forehand winners but an improved backhand allowed him to finish from both flanks.

Since Long will be playing his first match, Sharath sees an opening there.

"He is yet to play (with bye in the first two rounds). So, there will be pressure on him. Like I have said earlier, I have never felt better about my game. Hopefully, I can challenge him," added Sharath.

Earlier, Sutirtha Mukherjee was no match for 42-year-old Yu Fu as the China-born bested her in straight sets in the women's singles second round.

The 98th-ranked Indian, who showed remarkable grit for a come-from-behind win over Sweden's Linda Bergstrom, looked completely off-colour and lost 3-11, 3-11, 5-11, 5-11 in 23 minutes against the world No. 55.

She just managed two points on her serve and lost the first game in no time.

Sutirtha took a time-out when trailing 1-4 in the third game to talk to her coach, Soumyadeep Roy, seemingly to upset the rhythm of Yu Fu, but the veteran remained unaffected.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Harish Kotian© Copyright 2021 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

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