Manika Batra defeats another top 10 player to win the historic bronze medal



Manika Batra became the first Indian rower to win a medal at the ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup after shocking world number six Hina Hayata of Japan in the bronze playoff on Saturday.

The world number 44 defeated Hayata 4-2 (11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10, 4-11, 11-2) to complete the amazing feat. Along with the historic bronze medal, Manica will also receive $10,000 USD for her efforts.

“This win is a big win for me, defeating the great players. I enjoyed playing and fighting well against them for a great result. I will continue to put the extra yard in all my future tournaments. I expect all of you to give your full support,” said an emotional Manica.

earlier in the dayManika lost 2-4 (8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 7-11) to second seed Mima Ito in the semifinals.

Despite Ito’s shaky start, the Japanese finished strong and defeated the Indian player by a percentage befitting her reputation and ranking.

Manika’s fighting qualities came to the fore in the fourth game of the bronze medal playoff when she was trailing in the dumps, as fourth seed Hayata held on to four match points at 10-6.

That’s when Manika launched herself, using all the tricks in her bag, attacking the flanks with crunchy forehands, including some unchallenging counters, and using backhand jabs to good effect and accurate placements.

In Deuce, the Japanese were conceding, but an unexpected error – Hayata’s serve hit the net, and the ball fell on her side to land – enabled Manika to come up with a lucky point (11-10) and take the winning point when the serve returned with her.

However, the Japanese ran a good lead the next day to reduce the margin. But Manika changed her strategy in the sixth game, attacking from the start and allowing her opponent the first point with a score of 3-1. You got another point at 5-2, but that was all you could achieve.

As frustration set in, the Japanese became more and more error-prone, unable to keep the ball on the table even as Maneka went from strength to strength to finish the match 11-2.

On her way to the bronze, Maneka upset world number seven Chen Xingtong of China in the round of 16, then world number 23 Chen Zhou Yu 4-3 Taipei in the quarterfinals.

Maneka on Friday secured the best finish for an Indian in the 39-year-old’s Asian Cup history after Ashanta Sharath Kamal and J Sathyan finished sixth in 2015 and 2019 respectively.

The $200,000 event saw the top 16 players in the men’s and women’s singles from the continent based on world rankings and qualifications.

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