UTT: United puts it past Smashers

Elizabeta Samara and Amalraj pull off remarkable wins.

Romania’s Elizabeta Samara and A. Amalraj provided a late impetus in a thrilling encounter.   -  SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

In a dream comeback, Maharashtra United bounced back from 2-7 to shock table-topper Dabang Smashers 12-9 as Romania’s Elizabeta Samara and A. Amalraj provided a late impetus in a thrilling encounter in the Ultimate Table Tennis league here on Saturday.

United’s late burst, winning the last seven sets, pushed into the background the efforts of Japanese Sakura Mori who had won the singles and doubles, with G. Sathiyan, with 3-0 margins. As the tie progressed, United players won the last four singles matches on the trot.

Though this was Smashers’ second successive defeat, it remained atop the standings with 48 points while United, following its first victory in four outings, jumped to the second spot with 38 points.

For United, Portugal’s Joao Monteiro started the comeback by playing way above his World ranking of 71 to down 27th-ranked Japanese Yoshida Masaki.

Samara, having recovered from a twisted ankle suffered on Thursday, presented herself to play two singles and showed what grit is all about. Ranked 19th in the world, she soaked in the pressure to beat 17-year-old Adriana Diaz, ranked 38th, 2-1 and saved her best against Manika in the final singles.

In between Samara’s victories, Amalraj shook off his run of disappointments by winning his first singles match, that too, against World No. 52 Cedric Nuytinck who suffered his first loss in three outings.

Amalraj, having lost three singles matches after blowing away comfortable leads in each encounter, finally produced his best and blanked the Belgian and then celebrated in his signature style — jumping and roaring in joy!

The results: Maharashtra United bt Dabang Smashers 12-9 (Madhurika Patkar lost to Sakura Mori 4-11, 8-11, 9-11; Kristian Karlsson bt G. Sathiyan 6-11, 11-10, 11-8; A. Amalraj & Lily Zhang lost to G. Sathiyan & Sakura Mori 5-11, 6-11, 5-11; Joao Monteiro bt Yoshida Masaki 11-5, 6-11, 11-9; Elizabeta Samara bt Adriana Diaz 11-6, 10-11, 11-2; A. Amalraj bt Cedric Nuytinck 11-9, 11-9, 11-10; Elizabeta Samara bt Manika Batra 11-10, 11-9, 11-8).