India’s golden girl Manika Batra and country’s highest-ranked men’s player G. Sathiyan stamped their class on the Ultimate Table Tennis championship, annexing the title for Dabang Smashers here at the Netaji Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
Manika and Sathiyan’s power-packed performance helped the Smashers topple defending champions Falcons TTC 11-7 and also pocket a whopping Rs 1 crore in front of a delirious full house.
Riding on a brilliant start that saw the Smashers jump to a solid 7-2 lead after just three matches, captain Sathiyan recorded a thumping 2-1 victory over Alvaro Robles to bring the contest to a premature end.
Sathiyan won the first set handsomely and led 5-0 in the second. But Spain’s Robles pulled back to draw level and make it 1-1. World No 44 Sathiyan, however, had the last laugh, winning the third and the crucial 11th game point to seal the victory for the Smashers.
Earlier, 23-year-old Manika led the charge, downing World No 30 Matilda Ekholm 3-0 (11-8, 11-10, 11-9) for another winning start for the Smashers. The 2018 Commonwealth Games double-gold medallist dominated her Swedish opponent, claiming points with a series of blistering smashes.
Manika picked up the Indian player of the league award for her outstanding performance through the season. She won 5 matches and lost 2.
World No 27 Yoshida Masaki extended Smashers lead with a 2-1 victory over Sanil Shetty. Masaki exhibited great technique and control to claim the first two sets 11-8, 11-8. But Shetty went back for broke and claimed the last set to corner one vital point.
Sathiyan and Sakura Mori promptly paired up to pick 2 more game points, getting the better of Sanil Shetty and Bernadette Szocs in the mixed doubles clash.
Falcons’ captain and last year’s MVP Liam Pitchford brought his side back to life, beating Belgium’s Cedric Nuytinck 2-1 in an exhilarating contest. He, however, yielded a vital point, losing the second set 5-11 which proved critical in the end.
Romania’s Szocs, who has quietly been winning matches for Falcons, then overcame young Adriana Diaz to narrow the lead. But the 17-year-old Puerto Rican also pulled one point in the third set to prepare the stage for captain Sathiyan.