UTT Season 4: Sathiyan outshines Sharath as Dabang Delhi, Chennai Lions enter semis

Pune, July 26 (IANS) Sathiyan Gnanasekaran blanked veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal in a clash of former national champions before Dabang Delhi TTC defeated defending champions Chennai Lions 9-6 to reach the semifinals of the ongoing Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) Season 4 at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here on Wednesday.

The Delhi franchise made their way to the last four with 42 points, whereas despite Wednesday’s defeat, Chennai Lions too secured their place in the last four with 41 points.

The franchise-based league, promoted by Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani under the auspices of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), has been a game-changer for Indian table tennis since its inception in 2017.

Sathiyan defeated Sharath 3-0 in the first match of the tie to give his franchise a perfect start. Both the paddlers went toe-to-toe in the first game as they used their experience to win every point. In the end, the Dabang Delhi player held his nerve and won the game through a golden point.

The multiple-time Asian Games medallist looked rusty at the start of the second game as Sathiyan quickly took a big lead before clinching the game 11-3. He was at his imperious best in the third game as well, clinching it 11-6 with accurate forehand shots on both flanks.

World No.30 Yangzi Liu defeated Sreeja Akula 2-1 in an exciting women’s singles match to bring Chennai Lions back in the tie.

Yangzi was behind at the start of the game as Sreeja used her immaculate backhands to gather points swiftly. However, the Australian paddler changed gear after settling in and won the opening game 11-8 before Sreeja made a comeback to clinch the following game 11-8 and forced the match into the decider. Liu won the last game 11-8 to win the match.

The third match (mixed doubles) of the tie went in the favour of Sathiyan and Barbora Balazova, who defeated Sharath and Yangzi 2-1 to extend their franchise’s lead. Sathiyan and Barbora clinched the first two games 11-7, 11-6 with precise coordination before losing the third by 7-11.

World No.32 Benedikt Duda kept the defending champions alive in the tie as he thrashed Jon Persson 2-1 (8-11, 11-6, 11-7) with his top-notch attacking skills in the fourth match.

However, Barbora beat Prapti Sen 2-1 (11-6, 4-11, 11-9) and ensured a comfortable victory for Dabang Delhi.

Tie score:

Chennai Lions lost to Dabang Delhi TTC 6-9: Sharath Kamal lost to Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 0-3 (10-11, 3-11, 6-11); Yangzi Liu beat Sreeja Akula 2-1 (11-8, 8-11, 11-8); Sharath/Yangzi lost to Sathiyan/Barbora 1-2 (7-11. 6-11, 11-7); Benedikt Duda beat Jon Persson 2-1 (8-11, 11-6, 11-7); Prapti Sen lost to Barbora 1-2 (11-6, 4-11, 11-9).

–IANS

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