Indias highest-ranked mens player Gnanasekaran Sathiyan and 2018 Commonwealth Games double gold medallist Manika Batra came up with sterling performances to give Dabang Smashers an emphatic victory over Warriors in the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) here on Saturday.
Smashers picked up 14 points while conceding only 7 in their 6-1 verdict to jump to the top of the six-team table.
Poster girl Manika began the charge against Achanta Sharath Kamal’s Warriors, scoring a tense 2-1 victory in the opening game. She shocked World No. 18 Sofia Polcanova, who is ranked 62 spots higher than her, claiming two out of the three games on ‘golden point’.
Manika entertained the over 2,500 fans who had turned up at the Balewadi stadium to cheer her, mixing her serves cleverly and using her backhand effectively to score a 11-10, 5-11, 11-10 victory.
The other crowd favourite Sharath Kamal began confidently, winning the first game 11-10. But Japan’s Yoshida Masaki (World No. 27) recovered strongly in the next to score a facile 11-5 win. The Indian star battled hard in the decider but a handful of unforced errors saw him lose 8-11.
Sathiyan rode on the winning momentum to give the Smashers a clean 3-0 victory in the mixed doubles, teaming up with Japanese Sakura Mori.
But he put his best foot forward in the next singles, shocking World No. 15 Chin-Yuan Chuang of Chinese Taipei 2-1 (11-7, 11-6, 7-11). The highest ranked Indian (World No. 44) upstaged his rival with stunning returns.
It also ensured the 25-year-old Smashers captain maintained his unbeaten record in the tournament since Season 1.
In between, Warriors were spurred by Polcanova, who put behind her defeat to Manika with a 3-0 victory over Mori in her second singles match.
The 17-year-old Adriana Diaz, the youngest player in the tournament from Puerto Rico, completed the Smashers’ dominance with an emphatic 3-0 win over Pooja Sahasrabuddhe.
On Sunday, Maharashtra United will take on RPSG Mavericks.