Manika Batra’s brilliant campaign in the 33rd Asian Cup table tennis tournament in Bangkok on Saturday suffered a setback when she went down fighting to Mima Ito of Japan, the second seed, (2-4) 8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 7-11 in the semifinals. Manika will take on Hina Hayata of Japan for the third place-play off match later today (1.50 p.m.).
It has been an amazing tournament for the 27-year-old. Poor performances in the Senior Nationals and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games led to whispers that her career was on a downward spiral. The way Manika turned things around in the Asian Cup was astounding.
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She wisely employed long pimples on her backhand and twiddled her racquet during long rallies, a practice that confounded opponents no end. Opponents were unable to read the spin and ended up making mistakes. Moreover, Manika was excellent on her forehand, be it down the line or reaching for the extreme forehand to go for the kill. Her backhand side-spin serves on her and fast push on the backhand for winners were telling.
All of it was all on display against Ito. The second seed, ranked World No. 5, kept her cool in the sixth game, despite being pushed by Manika.