UTT 2018: Smashers thumps Falcons to top the table

The Smashers paddlers displayed their swag in abundance as they thumped defending champion Falcons T.T.C 17-4 on Monday night at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex.

Manika Batra continued her giant-killing spree.   -  Vivek Bendre

Having acquired the services of two of India's in-form paddlers for the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis' second edition, the Dabang Smashers T.T.C. had hoped to better its third-place finish in the inaugural season. The Smashers paddlers displayed their swag in abundance as they thumped defending champion Falcons T.T.C 17-4 on Monday night at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex.

The win catapulted the Smashers to the top of the points table with 31 points, while Falcons remained in the fourth position with 15 points.

Batra continued her giant-killing spree by accounting for World No. 30 in the opening match of the night. The lanky Delhi girl displayed tremendous control with her long-pimpled rubber after losing the opening game against her left-handed opponent.

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Once Batra had given it the early impetus, Smashers just dominated the next two matches, with Japanese Yoshida Masaki thumping India's Sanil Shetty and the mixed doubles combination of Sathiyan and Sakura Mori rolling over Shetty and Bernadette Szocs with an identical margin of 3-0.

Even though Liam Pitchford overcame Masaki in the clash of overseas men's singles, the Englishman only delayed the inevitable for Falcons. When Adriana Diaz, the Puerta Rican, who is the youngest among the 24 Olympians participating in the league, stunned Szocs in the first two games, the Falcons had pocketed the tie with seven games to spare.

With virtually nothing to lose, Sathiyan then showcased his artistry with forehand top-spins and side-spin serves to outsmart lower ranked Spaniard Alvaro Robles in straight games. Mori then capped off the perfect evening for her team by making short work of Falcons' Sutirtha Mukherjee, the current national women's champion. The Japanese matched her loud cheers during the points with powerful forehand winners to take the fizz out of an already depleted Falcons bench.

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The scores:

Dabang Smashers T.T.C. bt Falcons T.T.C. 17-4 [Manika Batra bt Matilda Ekholm 2-1 (8-11, 11-10, 11-10); Yoshida Masaki bt Sanil Shetty 3-0 (11-5, 11-4, 11-8); G. Sathiyan & Sakura Mori bt Sanil Shetty & Bernadette Szocs 3-0 (11-9, 11-4, 11-4); Yoshida Masaki lost to Liam Pitchford 1-2 (10-11, 9-11, 11-6); Adriana Diaz bt Bernadette Szocs 2-1 (11-9, 11-8, 9-11); G. Sathiyan bt Alvaro Robles 3-0 (11-10, 11-6, 11-6); Sakura Mori bt Suthirtha Mukherjee 3-0 (11-3, 11-7, 11-10)].

Tuesday's fixture: Empowerji Challengers vs Warriors T.T.C.