WTT Star Contender Goa | Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee stun higher-ranked opponents
Indian paddlers Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee shone for the hosts at the WTT Star Contender Goa, defeating higher-ranked opponents to advance to the final 16 stages. Meanwhile, the greatest upset of the day came when Korean Cho Daeseong defeated the Chinese world number one Fan Zhendong.
As far as the hosts India was concerned, Manika and Sutirtha, two female paddlers, owned the day. In the evening session, Manika, the top-ranked player in India, defeated Adriana Diaz, the great Puerto Rican and world number 14 (11-9, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8) by a score of 3-1. Sutirtha, now ranked 146, defeated Jia Nan Yuan (wr 18) of France earlier in the morning session by a score of 3-0 (11-7, 11-8, 11-7).
Manika will compete against Portugal's Fu Yu (wr #19) in the pre-quarterfinals, while Sutirtha will take on China's Qian Tianyi (wr #20). After the game, a worn-out Manika commented, "I am really happy that I won today against Adriana Diaz. Let's see what happens in the next round. I have played her before and will have some strategies against her. I'll just give my best and I will just play my best game tomorrow for my country and for myself."
Sutirtha, whose flawless timing and force on the forehand have been her strengths in the competition, also expressed her feelings following the game, stating, "I feel absolutely great since I managed to beat a top 20 player. Tomorrow I'll be playing against Yu Fu and I am hoping that I will win against her as well. I had faced Yuan previously also and had conceded the match by a close margin. This time I didn't think much about the rankings and I just went with a mindset to play freely and that led me to this victory."
Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, an Indian mixed doubles team, were defeated by Japanese players Miwa Harimoto and Shunsuke Togami in three consecutive games to lose in the quarterfinals (3-0: 12-10, 11-6, 11-6). In the semi-finals, they take on the French team of Emmanuel Lebesson and Jia Nan Yuan. Another Japan-Korea matchup will take place in the other mixed doubles semifinal.
The greatest surprise of day four occurred in the men's singles when giant-killing Korean southpaw Cho defeated Fan 3-2 (7-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8) after falling behind by two games to advance to the round of 16. He defeated Swedish Mattias Falck (wr #36) on Wednesday.
In the men's singles, the second-and third-seeded players—Japanese teenager Tomokazu Harimoto (wr #4) and Swede Truls Moregard (wr #6)—also advanced to the round of 16 with victories against Chinese players Liang Yanning and Joao Geraldo.
Hina Hayata, the second-seeded player from Japan, lost to Cheng-I-Ching, the third-seeded player from Chinese Taipei, 1-3 (11-9, 8-11, 3-11, 4-11) in the round of 32 of the women's singles competition. However, the top-seeded Chinese player Wang Yidi (wr #4) easily defeated another Japanese player, Miyu Nagasaki (wr #38), 3-0.
Suthasini Sawettabut of Thailand (wr 35), who defeated Jihee Jeon of Korea (wr 21) 3-1, also produced a small flutter (11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-4). Another Korean, Choi Hyojoo (wr #50), who will next face Japanese player Miu Hirano, created the third shock in the women's singles. She defeated Doo Hoi Kem (wr #9) of Hong Kong, China, 3-1.
At one point on day four, six Chinese won. In the men's singles category, the top three players in the world are Liang Jingkun, Liu Weishan, and Lin Shidong, respectively. In the women's singles category, the top three players are Qian Tianyi, Liu Weishan, and Kuai Man.