Sweden’s World No. 25 Matilda Ekholm and India’s Sanil Shetty put up a fine display of attacking table tennis to register a comfortable 11-4 victory for RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata against Puneri Paltan Table Tennis in the Ultimate Table Tennis here on Tuesday.
37-year-old Matilda began her team’s charge with an emphatic 3-0 win in the opening Women’s Singles encounter against Germany's Sabine Winter. Sanil closed it for the Mavericks, pouncing on the opportunity to put pressure on his Indian counterpart Harmeet Desai and forcing him into mistakes. He surprised him with a 2-1 win to clinch the tie for Kolkata.
In between, Sanil and Matilda joined hands to eke out a crucial 2-1 victory in the Mixed Doubles to put the Mavericks in the driver’s seat against an under-pressure Paltan.
Earlier, Matilda Ekholm set the tone for the day, getting the better of Sabine Winter 3-0. It began as an even contest, but Matilda slowly asserted herself, even winning a spectacular rally that lasted 30 shots.
After taking the first set 11-9, she raced away in the remaining two (11-5, 11-6) to give the Mavericks an early 3-point lead.
Mavericks' German recruit Benedikt Duda (World No. 53), then ripped out an upset, overcoming Chuang Chih-Yuan (No. 28) rather comfortably. He won the first two sets on 6 and 4 before yielding the third at 8-11.
The Mixed Doubles was a close affair, with Sanil Shetty & Matilda Ekholm locked in an intense battle with Harmeet Desai & Sabine Winter for supremacy.
Sabine defended smartly to help Puneri take the first set. But then, Sanil-Matilda came into their own, attacking with gusto. The match was evenly poised till 7-7 before RP-SG pulled away for an 11-8 victory.
The final set too was dominated by Sanil-Matilda, at one point putting them 9-4 ahead. Harmeet-Sabine fought back to 9-10 but couldn’t finish it off.
In the reverse Men’s Singles, Harmeet Desai stormed away to a 6-2 lead only to see Sanil Shetty claw his way back in. Sanil dragged the set to 8-10 but that’s where it stopped.
The second set was tantalisingly close, with neither player conceding ground. They went neck and neck all the way till 10-10 till Sanil gobbled up the golden point.
The same story unfolded in the final set too, though Sanil was well poised at 10-8. Harmeet saved two match points but eventually lost on another golden point.
India’s star player Manika Batra tamed Ayhika Mukherjee 2-1 in the final fixture.
RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata bt Puneri Paltan Table Tennis 11-4
Women’s Singles: Matilda Ekholm bt Sabine Winter 3-0 (11-9, 11-5, 11-6)
Men’s Singles: Benedikt Duda bt Chuang Chih-Yuan 2-1 (11-6, 11-4, 8-11)
Mixed Doubles: Sanil Shetty & Matilda Ekholm bt Harmeet Desai & Sabine Winter 2-1 (6-11, 11-8, 11-9)
Men’s Singles: Sanil Shetty bt Harmeet Desai 2-1 (8-11, 11-10, 11-10)
Women’s Singles: Manika Batra bt Ayhika Mukherjee 2-1 (11-3, 10-11, 11-7)
Wednesday’s fixture: Chennai Lions vs Goa Challengers 7 pm on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports Select 1, Star Sports Select 1 HD, Hotstar, JioTV
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