UTT: Matilda powers Falcons into final

Defending champion turns the tables on Mavericks.

Falcons’ Matilda Ekholm won the summit clash 3-0 against Mavericks’ Ayhika Mukherjee.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Defending champion Falcons TTC turned the tables on RP-SG Mavericks in a final-match thriller to progress to the final of the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis with a narrow 11-10 win.

The second semifinal here at the Netaji Indoor Stadium saw Falcons’ Matilda Ekholm winning the summit clash 3-0 against Mavericks’ Ayhika Mukherjee to tilt the balance in favour of the Falcons, which was trailing 8-10 on point count till then.

Falcons will take on Dabang Smashers in the final at the same venue on Sunday.

Mavericks established a 4-2 lead after the second match thanks to Harmeet Desai, who upset World No. 56 Alvaro Robles with a fantastic performance. Sabine Winter of Germany gave Mavericks a good start, downing the Indian national champion Sutirtha Mukherjee 2-1 in the women’s singles.

Falcons turned things around in the mixed doubles where the pair of Sanil Shetty and Bernadette Szocs forced a 2-1 victory over the Mavericks team of Harmeet and Doo Hoi Kem. Falcons captain Liam Pitchford lost against Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson 1-2 in a close encounter as Mavericks extended its advantage to 7-5 on the point count.

Bernadette brought the Falcons back in business upsetting World No. 13 Doo Hoi Kem 2-1 in the next women’s singles to narrow the gap (7-8).

Sanil Shetty gave his best to snatch a point against Ukraine’s Kou Lei in the sixth match (men’s singles) as Mavericks entered the final contest with a 10-8 advantage needing just a point to secure the final berth. But the World No. 30 from Sweden, Ekholm, proved too good for Ayhika and won all the three games to clinch a fantastic win.

The results: semifinal: Falcons TTC bt RP-SG Mavericks 11-10 (Sutirtha Mukherjee lost to Sabine Winter 8-11, 8-11, 11-9; Alvaro Robles (Esp) lost to Harmeet Desai 6-11, 10-11, 11-6; Sanil Shetty & Bernadette Szocs bt Harmeet Desai & Doo Hoi Kem 11-10, 11-9, 9-11; Liam Pitchford lost to Mattias Karlsson 11-10, 9-11, 10-11; Bernadette Szocs bt Doo Hoi Kem 11-8, 11-7, 4-11; Sanil Shetty lost to Kou Lei 8-11, 4-11, 11-7; Matilda Ekholm bt Ayhika Mukherjee 11-4, 11-3, 11-4).