In a thrilling battle of equals, Dabang Smashers got the better of a fighting Maharashtra United to enter the final of the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis Powered by Kellogg’s at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here on Friday.
Japan’s Sakura Mori and young Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico scored the crucial victories to guide the Smashers to a 11-10 victory.
Mori triggered Smashers’ fightback by winning the mixed doubles in the company of captain Gnanasekaran Sathiyan against Anthony Amalraj and Lily Zhang 2-1(7-11, 11-5, 11-8). She went on win the singles upstaging Lily Zhang 2-1 (7-11, 11-8, 11-6).
But it was the 17-year-old Adriana who kept her nerve to seal Smashers’ final spot with a 3-0 (11-5, 11-6, 11-9) win over Madhurika Patkar. The Puerto Rican was down 1-7 in the third game but she made a sensational fightback to win it 11-9.
World No. 52 Cedric Nuytinck also played a part in Smashers success by upsetting World No. 40 Joao Monteiro 2-1 (7-11, 11-5, 11-8).
Earlier, a charged up Anthony Amalraj had put United ahead, stunning World No. 27 Yoshida Masaki 2-1 in the second clash of the tie. Romania’s Elizabeta Samara and Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson made the most of that upset, winning their respective singles to keep United in the hunt.
The 32-year-old Amalraj dominated his opponent, ranked 108 places above him, to win 2-1 (11-4, 11-8, 7-11) while World No. 18 Samara battled a troubled ankle to subdue Manika Batra 2-1 (11-8, 9-11, 11-10).
Karlsson’s 3-0 (11-8, 11-5, 11-8) drubbing of Smashers’ captain Gnanasekaran Sathiyan meant United were just one point away from a place in the final (10-8) but teenager Adriana dashed their hopes.
Saturday’s match: RP-SG Mavericks v Falcons TTC (second semi-final)
Dabang Smashers trail Maharashtra United 11-10
Women’s singles: Manika Batra lost to Elizabeta Samara (Rom) 1-2 (8-11, 11-9, 10-11)
Men’s singles: Yoshida Masaki (Jpn) lost to Anthony Amalraj 1-2 (4-11, 8-11, 11-7)
Mixed doubles: Gnanasekaran Sathiyan/ Sakura Mori (Jpn) bt Anthony Amalraj/ Lily Zhang 2-1 (7-11, 11-5, 11-8)
Men’s singles: Cedric Nuytinck (Bel) bt Joao Monteiro (Por) 2-1 (7-11, 11-8, 11-4)
Women’s singles: Sakura Mori (Jpn) bt Lily Zhang (USA) 2-1 (7-11, 11-8, 11-6)
Men’s singles: G Sathiyan lost to Kristian Karlsson (Swe) 0-3 (8-11, 5-11, 8-11)
Women’s singles: Adriana Diaz (Pue) bt Madhurika Patkar 3-0 (11-5, 11-6, 11-9)