Asian TT championships: South Korea too hot to handle for India in semi-finalsOctober 2, 2021
Top seeds South Korea defeated fourth seeded India 3-0 in the men’s team semifinals of the Asian Table Tennis Championships at the Lusail Sports Arena, Doha in Qatar on Friday. On the other hand, the Indian women’s team, without top player Manika Batra, won their match against Thailand 3-1 for fifth place.
The Indians were already assured of at least a bronze medal when they reached the semi-finals by toppling Iran 3-1 on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
The Indians will still return home a happier lot as they reached the podium finish for the first time in history. Even after a rest day and a medal in pocket, the morale was upbeat. On the eve of the match, veteran Sharath Kamal stated that his teammates will play all out and go for gold.
But Koreans had different idea. In the first encounter, Jan Woojin, world No.12 and top seed here, never allowed G Sathiyan to settle the game in 35 minutes although the world No. 38th Indian can take solace that he stole a set 11-5, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5.
Sharath who played the second tie gave hopes that he might make a turnaround against Lee Sangsu, world No.22. But that not to be for the World No.33 as his smashes went out of the table at the crucial times and he conceded the match at 7-11, 15-13, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9 in 51 minutes. The point difference which was a mere two showed how intense the battle was.
Two-up, Koreans next fielded doubles specialist and world No. 77 Cho Seungmin against Harmeet Desai, world No. 72 and even that ploy worked in favour of the top seeds. The southpaw Cho hardly gave any space to the higher ranked Indian who after trailing, won the second and third but in the decider, Korean prevailed in 45 minutes.
Young women’s team finishes fifth
On the other hand, the young Indian women, who played without their top star Manika Batra, were composed in the match for fifth place against Thailand and won it 3-1. Only Archana Kamath who played the opener against World No. 28 Suthsani Sawettabut lost her tie 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-9 in 36 minutes. The world No. 122 Indian fought fiercely despite two-down and took it to the decider and the experienced Thai prevailed.
Sutirtha Mukherjee, World No. 97, disposed of Phantita Pinyopisan in 18 minutes to win the contest 11-5, 11-5, 11-6 and in the third tie, Sreeja Akula posted an 11-7, 11-6, 11-2 win over Wirakarn Tayapitak in 17 minutes. In the reverse singles, Sutirtha tamed a tired looking Sawettabut 11-7, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7 in 32 minutes.
The individual events will begin soon and Indians hope for a podium finish in a couple of doubles events.
1-Korea bt 4-India 3-0 (12-Jang Woojin bt 38-G Sathiyan 11-5, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5, 22-Lee Sangsu bt 33-Sharath Kamal 7-11, 15-13, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9; 77-Cho Seungmin bt 72-Harmeet Desai 11-4, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 13-11
Women match for fifth place
Thailand lost to India 1-3 (Suthasini Sawettabut bt Archana Girish Kamath 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-9; Phantita Pinyopisan lost to Sutirtha Mukherjee 5-11, 5-11, 6-11; Wirakarn Tayapitak lost to Sreeja Akula 7-11, 6-11, 2-11; Suthasini lost to Sutirtha 7-11, 6-11, 12-10, 7-11)