Manika, Sathiyan bag mixed doubles title at WTT Contender Budapest

New Delhi, Aug 20: India’s Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran won the mixed doubles title at the WTT Contender Budapest table tennis event in Hungary on Friday.

Manika Batra and G Sathiyan beat Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and Dora Madarasz 3-1 (11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6) to become the first Indian table tennis players to win a WTT Contender title.

The Indian duo, seeded fifth, had a solid game plan in place. With Manika Batra serving as the attacker, G Sathiyan complemented her with his trademark returns.

The strategy worked out perfectly in the first game as Manika Batra regularly found gaps in the Hungarian pair’s defence and G Sathiyan barely allowed them any winners. Despite a few unforced errors, the Indian pair soon took a one-game lead.

In the second game, Manika Batra and G Sathiyan trailed 4-7 after initial hiccups. They came back to tie the score at 8-8 and then 9-9 before two errors allowed Ecseki-Madarasz to win the second game.

In the closely contested third game, the Indian pair was leading 9-7 but conceded the next three and were down a game point. However, Manika Batra and G Sathiyan called for a timeout and it turned the tide. The Indian duo recovered and won the game 12-10.

Manika Batra and G Sathiyan carried the momentum into the fourth game, with their superior serves and measured returns forcing frequent errors from the Hungarians. It won them the fourth game comfortably and with it, the mixed doubles title.

They were the only Indian players in action on the final day of the WTT Contender Budapest.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was knocked out in the second round of the men’s singles while Manika Batra had bowed out in the semi-finals of the women’s singles after losing in straight games to Elizabet Abraamian of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

The WTT Contender Series is a part of the revamped ITTF calendar launched this year and features two tiers of events — WTT Star Contender and WTT Contender. The events carry world ranking points that help players to progress through the new structure into WTT Champions and Grand Smash events.

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