The third step of the podium, bronze medallists just over three years ago at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on the east coast of Australia, at the WTT Contender Budapest 2021 Open on Friday 20th August it was two steps higher for India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra.
Bronze for Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra in Gold Coast, but gold in Budapest
Occupying the no.5 seeded position, the Indian pair won the mixed doubles title accounting for Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and Dora Madarasz, the no.8 seeds in the final (11-4, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6).
On the Gold Coast at the semi-final stage, they had experienced defeat by the narrowest of margins against England’s Lim Pitchford and Tin-Tin Ho (8-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 15), before accounting for colleagues, Sharath Kamal Achanta and Mouma Das (11-6, 11-2, 11-4) to secure the third step of the podium.
Furthermore, the win in Budapest is somewhat of a reunion and a watershed.
In recent times, with the Olympic Games beckoning, Sharath Kamal Achanta had partnered Manika Batra. In Tokyo the pair experienced a straight games defeat at the hands of Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching (11-8, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4).
Perhaps more significantly in Budapest, it was a first for India, no pair from the country had ever reached a mixed doubles final on either the ITTF World Tour or at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament.
Success for Asia and later there was success for a player with an Asian background.
Yang Xiaoxin, born in Beijing, moving to Monaco in 2014, emerged the women’s singles winner. The top seed, at the final hurdle, the now 33 year old, overcame Russian qualifier Elizabet Abraamian (11-9, 12-10, 11-6, 11-1).
Defeat at the final hurdle for one qualifier who had continually upset the seeding, in the men’s singles final it was the same, Germany’s Kilian Ort suffered at the hands of Sweden’s Truls Moregard, the no.14 seed (3-11, 11-9, 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9).
Runners up spot Kilian Ort, in the men’s doubles it was gold. Partnering colleague Tobias Hippler, the no.9 seeds, the duo overcame Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko and Kirill Skachkov, the no.2 seeds (11-3, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7) to arrest the title.
An outcome contrary to status, it was the same in the women’s doubles, once again Russia having to settle for the silver medal; in the title decider Hungary’s Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel, the no.2 seeds overcame Yana Noskova and Olga Vorobeva, the top seeds (11-7, 11-6, 11-6).
Next on the international agenda is the 2021 ITTF Czech International Open staged from Saturday 21st to Wednesday 25th August in Olomouc; notably India is present in force.
Editor: Ian Marshall