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WTT Contender Lasko: Manika Batra reaches singles semis; final in doubles

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Lasko (Slovenia), Nov 6 (IANS) India’s Manika Batra remained on course for a grand double at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender event in Lasko, Slovenia, reaching the semi-finals in the women’s singles and the final in women’s doubles with compatriot Archana Girish Kamath

In the women’s singles quarter-final played on Saturday, Manika overcame a tough challenge from Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, beating her rival 3-2, coming back from 1-2 deficit in a well-fought encounter. Manika eventually won the match 11-8, 4-11, 5-11,11-8, 11-7 to seal a place in the last-four stage at the Sports Hall Tri Lilije.

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Manika, ranked 58th in the World, started well on Saturday afternoon and won the first game but lost the next two games 4-11 and 5-11, and was staring at defeat. However, the Indian star, a gold medallist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, came back strongly in the fourth game and from 4-4, surged ahead to win the game at 11-8, overcoming a stiff challenge from the Romanian opponent.

In the decider, Manika, who represented the country in the Tokyo Olympics, opened a small lead at 6-4 and slowly build on it to extend it to 10-7 before clinching the issue on the first match point for a morale-boosting 3-2 win and a place in the semi-finals. She will next meet China’s World No. 11 Wang Yidi in the semi-final. The other semi-final will pit Germany’s Sabrine Winter and China’s Liu Weishan.

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Earlier on Friday night, Manika and Archana upset China’s Liu Weishan and Wang Zidi 3-2 (11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-8) in the women’s doubles semi-finals.

The two pairs traded games as the Indians won the first and third while the Chinese levelled scores twice by winning the second and fourth games.0

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In the decider, Manika and Archana conceded an early lead and were forced to take a time-out at 0-3 down. Things did not improve much as the Chinese stretched the lead to 7-2 when the Indians launched a brilliant comeback.

They levlled the score at 7-7 and took lead at 8-7, forcing their opponents to commit mistakes. The Chinese duo levelled scores at 8-8 but Manika and Archana won the next three points to seal victory and a place in the final.

They will meet Puerto Rican sisters Melanie and Adriana Diaz, who defeated Singapore’s Lin Ye and Zeng Jian 3-1 (11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3) to seal a place in Sunday’s final.

–IANS

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