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Manika Batra stuns world number 32, Creates history.

Manika Batra stuns world number 32

The Indian fought back from two games down to edge out her opponents in a seven-game thriller.

India’s table tennis star Manika Batra made a stunning comeback against world number 32 Margaryta Pesotska to reach the women’s singles third round but G Sathiyan succumbed to the pressure on his Olympic debut to exit the men’s singles competition here on Sunday.

While the 26th seed Sathian was expected to beat world number 94 Hong Kong’s Siu Hang Lam in his second-round match after getting a first-round bye, the same cannot be said about Manika, whose gritty approach under pressure proved decisive against her higher-ranked opponent from Ukraine.

Manika, ranked 62, made a remarkable comeback after losing the first two games to prevail 4-11, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7 in a second-round match that lasted 57 minutes.

She meets Austria’’s Sofia Polcanova on Monday for a place in the round of 16. If Manika manages another upset, it will be a significant achievement for the Indian in her second Olympics.

Like her first-round match, she did not want the national coach in her corner on Sunday but her personal coach Sanmay Paranjape was seen in the gallery.

However, the way she fought throughout the game, showed she was supremely confident about her abilities and did not any need any courtside support.

Down and out after the first two games and trailing even in the third, Manika somehow clawed her way back into the match.

She used the pimple rubber to good effect thereafter and combined it with a more offensive approach. The match saw long rallies, slow as well as fast ones, as Manika twiddled with her bat amazingly to find forehand and backhand winners.

The sixth game which she won after trailing 2-5 turned the tide in her favour decisively. The timeout worked as she reeled off nine points in a row to give herself five game points before levelling the match at 3-3.

With momentum in her side, Manika controlled the deciding game and sealed the match with a forehand cross-court winner.