Pyeongchang (South Korea), Sep 8 (PTI) India’s Manav Thakkar had his moments against Chinese legend Ma Long before going down fighting in a round of 16 men’s singles contest at the Asian Table Tennis Championships here on Friday.
The 23-year-old from Surat, who suffered a 0-3 defeat, was expectedly nervous going into the match against arguably the greatest player of all time but ended up giving a good account of himself in the three games he got to play.
Manav, ranked 100, led 9-5 in the first game but Long managed to reel off the next six points. Even in the second game, the Indian had an 8-4 advantage but was not able to sustain the high level of table tennis he needed to produce consistently against the five time Olympic gold medallist — two in singles and three in team events.
Long dominated the third game to complete a 11-9, 12-10, 11-5 win.
“It was a wonderful experience playing him ahead of the Asian Games. There were many learnings and many positives,” Manav told PTI.
“I was bit nervous in the beginning but became confident as the strokes were landing. Many people were supporting me in the stands. In the end, I was able to match his level but was not consistent enough. What stands out in great players like him is that they raise their game as the match progresses,” .
Earlier on Friday, Manav had pulled off a memorable 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 win over world number 33 Kao Cheng-Jui of South Korea to enter the pre-quarterfinals.
On a day when the seasoned G Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal lost their round of 32 matches, another heartening performance came from the 170th ranked Ayhika Mukherjee who stretched the Olympic bronze medallist Chen Xingtong of China to five games, before going down in the women’s singles round of 32.
Ayhika was on course for the biggest win of her career after taking a 2-0 lead in the best of five affair. However, the world No 4 fought back to take the next three games with the final scoreline reading 2-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-3 in favour of the Chinese.
In the men’s doubles quarterfinals, Thakkar and Manush Shah lost to the formidable Chinese combine of Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan 5-11, 3-11, 5-11.
The women’s doubles pairing of Ayhika and Sutirtha Mukherjee suffered a similar fate against the mighty Chinese pairing of Wang Manyu and Chen Meng, losing 5-11, 11-13, 10-12 in the last eight stage. The Indian men had won a bronze in the preceding team events.
Source: PTI News