With Chennai Lions saving its best for the final, there was very little Dabang Delhi could do. After both semifinals produced nail-biting finishes, the final proved a damp squib as Lions raced away to a dominant 8-1 triumph and claimed the glittering trophy in the Ultimate Table Tennis league here.
Sunday also proved an off-day for G. Sathiyan, who lost all six games he featured in. His 0-3 loss to Tiago Apolonia truly hurt Dabang. Thereafter, Sharath Kamal and Petrissa Solja nailed it 3-0 in mixed doubles by punishing Sathiyan and Bernadette Szocs. That decided the title with two singles to spare!
As it happened| Chennai Lions lifts trophy
“Last night, I said we beat the best team (Goa Challengers) in the semifinals to be here. And that confidence showed in our performance,” pointed out Sharath who was not required to play his singles.
“Dabang is a one-man team and once Tiago produced a beauty to blank Sathiyan, I knew we could finish it with mixed doubles,” said a jubilant Sharath.
Sathiyan falls short
Soon after the action unfolded, Petrissa Solja quickly put Lions 2-0 ahead against a struggling Bernadette Szocs, ranked 10 places higher at 14. In fact, from 5-5 in the first game, Petrissa won 10 points on the trot to open a 4-0 lead in the second.
But in the third, Bernadette got her act together and in spite of Petrissa bouncing back from 5-9 to draw level, put Dabang on the scoreboard.
It was now left to Sathiyan to show his worth for Dabang. But that was not to be. Apolonia exhibited amazing speed and anticipation to fox Sathiyan. Preferring to stand away from the table to unleash an array of top-spin drives, he dominated the first game and then snatched the second without being threatened.
Like in the first two games, Apolonia opened a comfortable lead in the third and soon held a 10-6 lead. A fighting Sathiyan saved three match-points but surrendered the fourth following an enthralling 17-shot rally.
An ecstatic Apolonia jumped and stood atop the digital-board serving as the surrounds and showed what this victory meant to him and his team.
With Lions leading 5-1, Sharath and Petrissa maintained their winning sequence, spoiling the undefeated record of an already-deflated duo of Sathiyan and Bernadette. The scoreline truly underlined the domination of Lions on this day.
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