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National table tennis championship: Manika Batra advances to semi-finals

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Stern paddle Manika Batra advanced to the semi-finals of the senior National Table Tennis Championship on Wednesday with a 4-3 win over Archana Kamath. The top seed had to work hard to win 13-11, 11-9, 4-11, 5-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4. After Manika led 2-0, Archana fought very well back to a tie and took a 3-2 lead. But when she changed gears, Manika showed her intention loud and clear, first in the sixth game she had four game points and in the decider she was a runaway winner.

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Archana made way too many mistakes in the sixth game, allowing Manika to breathe calmly. At 6-10 Manika knew she had sewn it nicely to free herself from all negative thoughts. And she didn’t have to do much in the decision as Archana’s mistakes kept growing and Manika pulled down the shutters for the Karnataka girl.

Manika will then face Sreeja Akula, who defeated Prapti Sen 4-3, in another tight match. Sreeja gained the upper hand after trailing 0-2 and put off her authority with two fine games to score 2-2. Then she dropped one before getting the upper hand to wrap it. The Railways’ Takeme Sarkar started well before letting Pooja Sahasrabudhe enjoy a 2-1 advantage. But the Railways girl stroked her way to the semi-finals when she took the next three games to seal Pooja’s fate.

Reeth, who was responsible for second seed Sutirtha Mukheree in the pre-quarter finals, had hiccups but soon came to himself to finish in style with a 4-2 verdict against Kaushani Nath.

In the pre-quarter finals, defending champion and second seed Sutirtha Mukherjee was flattered by misleading and went down 3-4 for PSPB’s Reeth Rishya. But Archana was lucky enough to escape defeat at the hands of TTFI wildcard contestant Anusha Kutumbale who failed to take home the advantage.

The ninth seed led 3-0, but the girl from Madhya Pradesh managed to pull herself up and restore parity.

In the decision maker, Archana became wiser after the events and her changed strategy paid dividends immediately.

Top-seeded Manika Batra pooh-poohed early warnings from Railways’s Sagarika Mukherjee, with a 4-0 verdict.

Prapti Sen, like Sreeja Akula, fended off early threats, but the rest of the higher seeds played according to the script.

Earlier in the day, three other seeds tumbled in the round of 32. No. 3rd seed Ayhika lost to Pooja Sahasrabudhe 4-2, 14th seed Madhurika Patkar went to Poymantee Baisya 3-4, and former national champion Ankita Das got the door through Kaushani Nath.

RESULTS:

Women’s singles quarter-finals: Manika Batra bt Archana Kamath 13-11, 11-9, 4-11, 5-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4

Akula Sreeja Akula bt Prapti Sen 7-11, 11-13, 11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7

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Takeme Sarkar bt Pooja Sahasrabudhe 11-8, 9-11, 1-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9

Reeth Rishya bt Kaushani Nath 11-2, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9

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