IMAGE: India’s Payas Jain was beaten by China’s Peng Xiang in the boys’ under-19 semi-finals at the World Youth Table Tennis Championships, in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, on Wednesday. Photograph: SAI Media/Twitter
Payas, seeded fourth, had defeated Iran's Naved Shams 11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4 on Tuesday night to earn a semi-final showdown against Peng Xiang, the winner of the title in 2019 and also assure himself of at least a bronze.
However, world No 3 Payas could not reproduce his form in the semifinals and lost to the Chinese 1-4 (4-11, 12-10, 4-11, 2-11, 1-11) in less than 30 minutes. The reigning world champion, who executes forehand and backhand shots with equal felicity, was on song against the Indian, who couldn't contain his opponent's onslaught.
Except perhaps in the second game where Payas managed to seize the moment to win the game on extended points, Peng was all over with his attacking shots. The last two games exemplified the complete control that the Chinese had. The quarterfinal clash was yet another battle between Payas and Naved, who have met each other before on half a dozen occasions.
With Tuesday's win, Payas has equalled the win-loss records. Payas was right on the money against the Iranian, breezing through to a 3-0 lead in the quarterfinals. However, Naved came back strong in the next to pull one back. However, Payas was up to the task in the fifth and completed it to romp home. In the pre-quarterfinals, Payas faced a tough challenge from Nicholas Lum of Australia.
But he bounced back from a 0-2 deficit behind him to win the match 7-11, 4-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-8, 14-2. Earlier on Tuesday, Suhana Saini achieved the rare feat of becoming the only Indian to win three medals at the Worlds. Suhana, however, had to remain contented with the bronze after going down to the top-seeded Egyptian Hana Goda 1-4 (10-12, 11-9, 3-11, 3-11, 8-11) in the semifinals on Wednesday.
In the opening game, Suhana managed to deuce but her Egyptian opponent went 1-0 up. In the second, the Indian took a six-point lead at point to return to form. But in the third, Hana benefited from Suhana's blemishes to build her lead, picking up seven consecutive points. There was no respite in the fourth as Hana went from strength to strength to take an unassailable lead, forcing an inevitable win in the next.