In a befitting finale, Harmeet Desai produced timely answers to all the questions posed by a spirited Manav Thakkar in a seven-set thriller.
Before this first all-Gujarat final in the history of National table tennis championship, top seed Sutirtha Mukherjee walked away with her second women singles title by brushing Krittwika Sinha Roy 11-4, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4.
Thakkar, the conqueror of an error-prone top seed G. Sathiyan in the semifinals, bounced back three times to force the decider but Desai was not be denied a 11-4, 11-13, 14-12, 9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5 triumph. To Thakkar’s credit, he rallied from 5-9 in the fourth set to brighten his prospects.
Desai, clearly better prepared having lost for the first time to Thakkar in Kolkata this season, changed gears in the deciding set to open a big, early lead and crossed the line without much ado. After winning his semifinal against Soumyajit Ghosh - the man who ousted Sharath Kamal on Saturday evening - Desai was wary of Thakkar’s abilities.
“Manav had just beaten Sathiyan and, to be honest, I was ready to accept defeat, given the way he was playing. I was expecting him to return every ball. It was only in the decider that I got away,” confessed the champion, who finished runner-up to Sanil Shetty in 2014 at Patna in his only previous title-clash.
Thakkar was gracious in defeat. “I think he played well, especially in the decider and I could do very little. Overall, I am very happy with the way I played, with my first win Sathiyan being very special.”
Sutirtha, champion in 2018, regained the crown by stopping last year’s finalist Krittwika in quick time. Having claimed the bronze for Haryana in the team championship, Sutirtha also won the women doubles and finished runner-up in mixed doubles. Recently-married Jubin Kumar won his fifth men’s doubles title after partnering Ghosh.
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