Sanil Shetty shook off his poor form and set the pace for defending champion Falcons’ commanding 15-6 triumph over Warriors in the Ultimate Table Tennis league, here, on Friday.
Making a mockery of world rankings, the 108th ranked Shetty upstaged Commonwealth Games silver medallist and World No. 22 Aruna Quadri 2-1, to follow his straight-set victory over the Nigerian last season. The left-handed Shetty, who appeared too tentative during the Pune-leg of the league, reproduced his aggressive best that helped the side win the title last year. Significantly, Shetty came good on a day when the team needed to lift itself from the bottom of the table, having tallied just 15 points from two encounters.
As things stand, after three rounds, Falcons (30 points) is placed third, while Warriors (27) slipped to fifth. For Warriors, unless World No.15 Chih Yuan Chuang, Quadri and 47th-ranked Sharath Kamal come good in the remaining two rounds, a semifinal spot looks difficult.
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Shetty, even after defeating Quadri, was not done with Warriors. He returned to the arena in the company of Romanian Bernadette Szocs and stunned Sharath Kamal and Sofia Polcanova 3-0 in the mixed doubles. The 36th-ranked Szocs, laid low by indisposition, also contributed by shocking 18th-ranked Sofia 2-1 in a match where every set was decided on ‘golden point’.
England’s Liam Pitchford, ranked 49th, made to play two singles, played his part to perfection by upsetting Chih Yuan Chuang 2-1 and later stopped an error-prone Sharath by a similar margin to remain unbeaten in four encounters. Warriors’ lone victory came in the final match when 51st-ranked Hana Matelova bounced back to stop Sutitha Mukherjee.
Falcons beat Warriors 15-6 (Matilda Ekholm bt Pooja Saharabuddhe 11-4, 11-3, 11-5; Sanil Shetty bt Aruna Quadri 11-6, 5-11, 11-10; Sanil Shetty and Bernadette Szocs bt Sharath Kamal and Sofia Polcanova 11-4, 11-7, 11-9; Liam Pitchford bt Chih Yuan Chuang 11-10, 5-11, 11-7; Bernadette Szocs bt Sofia Polcanova 10-11, 11-10, 11-10; Pitchford bt Sharath 11-9, 11-4, 10-11; Sutritha Mukherjee lost to Hana Matelova 11-10, 3-11, 5-11).