Table Tennis in Tokyo 2020: Sharath, Manika bow out of mixed doubles; Sutirtha sizzles

Lin and Cheng of the Chinese Taipei were in no mood to give the Indian duo any kind of hope as they annihilated their challenge in just 24 minutes in the best of seven games contest.

Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra in action on Saturday.

A. Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra made a tame surrender in their mixed doubles first round in Tokyo on Saturday.

But Batra and debutant Sutirtha Mukherjee won their women’s singles first round in contrasting styles on the first day.

The day started with Sharath and Manika putting up an insipid display against Lin Yun Ju and Cheng I Ching of Chinese Taipei 8-11, 6-11, 5-11, 4-11 in the mixed doubles round of 16.

Later, Manika made short work of Great Britain’s Ho Tin Tin 11-7, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9. Sutirtha ended the day by wiping out the 3-1 deficit against Sweden’s Linda Bergstrom 5-11, 11-9, 11-13, 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-5.

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Once her personal coach Sanmay Paranjape was not allowed in the competition area, Manika preferred to play without Soumyadeep Roy, designated coach for the Olympics, to advise her during the match. She didn’t drop a set to set up a second-round against World No. 32 Margaryta Pesotska.

A few minutes later, Sutirtha, a product of Roy’s academy in Kolkata, made a stunning comeback to ensure a mirror-cracking start. Trailing 3-1, Sutirtha changed her approach, minimised her ambitious winners and got into a rally mode to tire her defensive opponent out. She will now face left-handed Yu Fu, a China-born veteran who represents Portugal, in the second round on Sunday.

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