Defending Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) champions Dabang Delhi picked up their first win of the third edition with a 9-6 win over U Mumba at the Thyagraj Stadium in Delhi. Cheered on by a large contingent of kids, who kept the atmosphere lively with loud cheers of "Dabang, Dilli, Dabang, Dilli", it was the home side who were better when it mattered in crucial moments.
With the game point at 11 points, a golden point - played at 10-10 - was played as many as seven times in the evening. No tie, so far in the tournament, has seen as many golden points. Three of those went U Mumba's way, with Doo Hoi Kem clinching two and Sutirtha Mukherjee the other, and four to Dabang Delhi, two each shared between Jon Persson and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.
With two singles matches pitting foreigners and the two seeing Indians in action, it was always expected to be tense and it did not disappoint.
Romania's 19th ranked Bernadette Szocs and Hong Kong's 12th ranked Doo Hoi Kem got things rolling in what was the theme of the night - golden point. Both players read each other shot-for-shot before one would somehow outdo the other. If you were in the need for a highlight reel from UTT, this was your match. It had intensity from the word go, both players exchanging long and rapid-fire rallies. In the end, though, Szocs erred on pivotal moments to lose 10-11, 10-11, 11-8.
If there was someone who made the most of the crowd support, it was Jon Persson. Neither he or Kirill Gerassimenko gave an inch in their tense encounter. In both of the first two games, he got the crowd roaring following 11-10, 11-10 wins. In the second game, he came from 9-10 down to win. The third, however, didn't prove to be as close but it did keep the crowd entertained. Or Persson did. At 2-8, the Swede showed off his football skills. After a thumping smash to which he had no answer, he played keepy-uppy with the TT ball, brought it down to his head, then shifted it to his racket and had play continue. With Kirill clinching the third game, the tie was at even footing at 3-3.
Coming into the fixture, Dabang Delhi's Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was looking to clinch his second singles win of the competition. He was pit against Manav Thakkar of U Mumba. Thakkar had ran his much senior compatriot Sharath Kamal close - coming one point from win - and he did much of the same against India's top-ranked player.
As they stepped up to the table for the fourth match, and Mumbai trailing 4-5, Dabang Delhi's coach Sachin Shetty said, "Sathiyan is a very positive player. He does well, works for the team and I have confidence in him doing well." And Sathiyan didn't prove him wrong.
The first game went all the way and ran extremely close before Sathiyan opened an 8-6 lead. But Manav levelled things up by forcing two errors. They traded some nervous points which pushed both players before an unfortunate net chord brought up the golden point. On the decisive point, Manav tried to push for the winner but forehand ran straight into the net.
The second game followed the same script as the first. Both players remained close but contrary to the first game, this time Manav took the lead. Couple of lethal forehands straight into Sathiyan's body had no response. Manav had the opportunity to close the game at 10-8. Thakkar went for too much on the first and then was forced into an error to throw away both chances. On second straight golden point, Thakkar once again went for too much on the attack and had too much force to send the ball long. Three straight points for Sathiyan and Thakkar had let the chance go.
Clearly mentally jaded by that collapse late on, Thakkar couldn't match the effort of the first two games. At 9-4, he put in everything but came out with nothing. He produced thumping smashes after another and had Sathiyan retreating but getting everything back. The point, unfortunately for fifth-ranked Indian Thakkar, went Sathiyan's way as his forehand hit the net. Manav clinched three points but backhand into the net handed Sathiyan the win.
With the win, Delhi had taken an unbeatable 8-4 lead which made the final match inconsequential. Sutirtha Mukherjee beat Krittwika Sinha Roy to reduce the overall deficit.
Dabang Delhi beat U Mumba 9-6
Women's Singles - Bernadette Szocs lost to Doo Hoi Kem 1-2 (10-11, 10-11, 11-8)
Men's Singles - Jon Persson beat Kirill Gerassimenko 2-1 (11-10, 11-10, 7-11)
Mixed Doubles - Sathiyan G. & Bernadette Szocs beat Manav Thakkar & Doo Hoi Kem 2-1 (11-2, 8-11, 11-8)
Men's Doubles - Sathiyan G. beat Manav Thakkar 3-0 (11-10, 11-10, 11-7)
Women's Singles - Krittwika Sinha Roy lost to Sutirtha Mukherjee 1-2 (4-11, 10-11, 11-8)
Updated Date: Jul 29, 2019 22:44:14 IST