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Sathiyan enters Spanish Open final; Manika-Mouma pair sets the tone




New Delhi, November 26: G. Sathiyan entered the men singles final of 2017 Challenge Spanish Open when he defeated Lam Siu Hang of Hong Kong 11-7, 11-8, 11-3, 8-11, 12-10 to become the first Indian to do an encore in a Challenge series at Almeria today.


He will take on sixth-seed Japanese Kazuhiro Yoshimura in the final to be played later tonight. The Japanese downed Ng Pak Nam, the No. 14 seed, from Hong Kong 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 3-11,11-5, 11-7 in a tough first semi-final earlier.


As for the Indian, who has a World Tour series title from Belgium Open in 2016, it looked all easy when he quickly went 3-0 up against the Hong Kong player. But the latter made most of Sathiyan flaws and took a comfortable lead of 8-4. Yet, Sathiyan closed in on his rival before he won with a sizeable margin.


In the fifth game, however, it was Lam who surged ahead with a winning lead of 9-5 but squandered it to allow Sathiyan level 9-9 and go 10-9 up. As he served for his match point, he failed to keep the ball in play and it allowed a lifeline to his opponent. After deuce, he served but a powerful backhand return from Sathiyan forced Lam block but the ball went out for Sathiyan to let out a big scream in elation.


It was an unexpected win for Sathiyan in the semi-final when he sent the third seeded Iranian, Noshad Alamiyan, packing rather cheaply as he the Indian won 7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7, 11-6.


Manika-Mouma in maiden final


Earlier, the Indian pair of Manika Batra and Mouma Das entered its maiden women doubles final after accounting for the local favourites Ana Garcia and Xuan Zhang 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 16-14. The second-seeded Indian duo began sluggishly, losing the first game but grew in confidence to lead 2-1 rather easily. However, the Spanish pair came back strongly to level score and taking the issue to the decider.


The Indians did well to keep a slender lead and combining well posed sufficient problems to the Spaniards. But credit to the local girls who fought well and mounted pressure on their opponents after deuce.


The decisive saw Indians losing three match points before they held their fourth to enter the final where they will meet the top-seeded and a strong Korean pair of Jihee Jeon and Haeun Yang. The Koreans beat Ukraine’s Ganna Gaponova and Ievgeniia Vasylieva 10-12, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7.


The Koreans have an impeccable record of 14 final appearances on the ITTF World Tour, with seven titles to their credit!


Boys win first-round


Meanwhile, the junior boys’ team of Manav Thakkar, Manush Shah and Snehit Suravajjula blanked out New Zealand 3-0 in the their first round group D match in the 2017 World Junior Table Tennis Championships, currently on at Riva del Garda in Italy.


In the opening rubber Manush Shah defeated Dean Shu 11-3, 11-6, 11-3, while Manav overcame a tough Alfred Dela Pena 5-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7. In the third rubber, Senhit accounted for Victor Ma 11-4, 11-9, 11-7