Anthony Amalraj emerged the men’s singles champion for the second time, taming G. Sathiyan 4-2 in the final of the 77th Senior National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the Kotla Vijay Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium today.
Just 40 minutes before that, PSPB’s Manika Batra created history winning her maiden women’s title, beating another new entrant in final, Pooja Sahasrabuddhle, also of PSPB.
If Amalraj was in a zone of his own, Sathiyan was not lagging behind. But what made the ultimate difference was Amalraj played percentage game, driving well and executing his shots with pin-pointed precision. On the other hand, Sathiyan seemed to be playing under enormous pressure and it was telling on his play.
The fortune of pendulum kept swinging with both players taking the alternate sets. But the fifth game changed it all when Amalraj ran off with a quick lead and mounting pressure on his rival. Sathiyan, despite taking time-off for a quick consultation with his coach and former national champion S. Raman, things did not go his way.
Once Amalraj had made it 3-2, it was just a matter of time for him before pulling the shutters down on Sathiyan. As is his practice, Amalraj let out a big blurt in celebration and kept himself to a limit this time before lifting the Maharaja Pithapuram Cup and taking home the Rs. 2.2 lakh prize money.
Nobody deserved to lose the nerve-wracking women’s final. After all, both Manika and Pooja were playing their maiden final with the obvious aim. Today, luck was on Manika’s side both players missed two title-points each as she sent a power-packed forehand to the extreme right of Pooja to her bewilderment. She tried hard to reach for the ball even as it swerved from its path and out of Pooja’s reach. Meanwhile India’s highest-ranked player Sharath Kamal bowed out in the semifinals and this time without a fight against Sathiyan. What was disappointing was the way the six-time national champion and the top seed here surrendered. Except for the opening game, Sharath led comfortably in every subsequent set 6-3, 6-2 and 6-0. Probably, his heart was willing for another fight back but not the body.
Sharath may have been in some discomfiture and that was very much evident because he was unable to move well and reach the ball. On the other hand, Sathiyan was growing in confidence with astonishing winner seven as Sharath dropped his guard. Every time he took the lead, he found Sathiyan making his way up and go over his rival.
Men’s Singles: Final: Anthony Amalraj (PSPB_ bt G. Sathiyan (PSPB) 4-2 (11-5, 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9); Semifinals:
G. Sathiyan (PSPB) bt A. Sharath Kamal 4-0 (12-10, 11-8, 11-8, 11-3), Anthony Amalraj (PSPB) bt Soumyajit Ghosh (PSPB) 4-1 (11-6, 11-5, 5-11, 11-7, 13-11).
Doubles: Final: Abhishek Yadav/Sudhanshu Grover (Raj) bt Arjun Ghosh/Anirban Ghosh (WB) 3-0 (11-4, 11-9,11-9).
Women’s Singles: Final: Manika Batra (PSPB) bt Pooja Sahasrabuddhe (PSPB) 4-3 (11-3, 8-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-7, 7-11, 14-12); Semifinals: Manika Batra (PSPB) bt Krittwika Sinha Roy (WB) 4-0 (11-7, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7), Pooja Sahasrabuddhe (PSPB) bt Madhurika Patkar (Mah) 4-2 (8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7).
Doubles: Final: Krittwika Sinha Roy/Mousumi Paul (WB) bt Mouma Das/K. Shamini (PSPB) 3-2 (13-11, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10).