India’s top ranked Sathiyan Gnanasekaran is through to the knockout stages of the men’s table tennis World Cup in Chengdu.
Making his debut at the tournament, the 26-year-old, who plies his trade with top German Club Gruntwettersbach, won both his Group D matches to earn his berth in the main draw of the competition.
Sathiyan, who hails from Chennai, came back from two games down to beat Frenchman Jonathan Groth 11-13, 9-11, 11-8, 14-12, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8 in his opening match that lasted just over an hour.
“I am just out of words, this is a fantastic win for me. This is the first time I am beating Gauzy after losing two very close match. I was match point up in the world team championships and I lost. This was getting into my head, not again,” said Sathiyan, who is a qualified engineer,.
A much improved defensive game helped him to break down Gauzy’s relentless attack and turn it to his advantage.
“ My coach kept motivating me and I just kept believing. Gauzy played very well and thanks to the crowd for their support. Losing the first game after being 10-6 up, I was a little upset that I could not capitalise on it. Gauzy is that kind of a player, you can never take it easy with him. He is always coming back at you but I was ready for it this time and really happy that I was successful,” he added.
Sathiyan went on to beat Denmark’s Jonathan Groth 11-3, 12-10, 7-11, 16-14, 8-11, 11-8 to top the group. Groth, who was beaten by Gauzy earlier in the day, needed a win over Sathiyan to qualify for the main draw. Instead it was Gauzy, who went through as the group runners-up.
Also through to the main draw is German’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who picked up wins over Austrian Daniel Habesohn and Bulgarian Vladimir Samsonov. Habesohn booked his berth by finishing second in the group with a hard earned 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 5-11, 7-11, 11-5 win over Samsonov in the final match of the day.
Korean Lee Sansgu topped Group B with a win over Egyptian Omar Assar in his opening match and followed it up with a thrilling defeat of American Kanak Jha. Following his 9-11, 11-8, 13-15, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6 win over Kanak, the Korean said: “This was not an easy match, but I am happy that I won it. I played two matches today and now I feel happy to make it into the main draw. I will make full preparations for tomorrow’s matches. Everyone here is really big player. Every match matters. What I can control is only myself. And I believe that my hard work will eventually pay off.”
It was, however, not the end of the road for Kanak. He booked his place in the next round when he came back from two games down to beat Omar 15-17, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 in his second match.
Group C will see Sweden’s Krsitian Karlsson and Nigerian Quadri Aruna making it through to the knockout stages. Aruna was a last minute call-up to the tournament and it was his opening match win against Australian Hu Heming that helped him qualify for the next round.
“I won 4-0, it might seem like it was easy but it was not easy for me because I was injured and I have not been practicing for 10 days and only started coming back 3 days ago. It is also a long journey to get here and I’m feeling a little tired but it was a good match for me and I am happy to win. It’s always great to be representing Africa, to be representing all the African countries. It has always been a great privilege to be representing Nigeria,” said Aruna.
Group A: Dimitrij Ovtcharov (Ger) bt Daniel Habesohn (Aut) 11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8; Dimitrij Ovtcharov (Ger) bt Vladimir Samsonov (Blr) 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6
Group B: Lee Sangsu (Kor) bt Omar Assar (Egy) 14-12, 11-9, 11-8, 13-15, 11-6; Lee Sangsu (Kor) bt Kanak Jha (USA) 9-11, 11-8, 13-15, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6; Kanak Jha (USA) bt Omar Assar (Egy) 15-17, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9
Group C: Quadri Aruna (Ngr) bt Hu Heming (Aus) 11-6, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6; Kristian Karlsson (Swe) bt Quadri Aruna (Ngr) 12-10, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9; Kristian Karlsson (Swe) bt Hu Heming (Aus) 8-11, 11-2, 11-8, 15-13, 11-8
Group D: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (Ind) bt Simon Gauzy (Fra) 11-13, 9-11, 11-8, 14-12, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8; Simon Gauzy (Fra) bt Jonathan Groth (Den) 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-2; Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (Ind) bt Jonathan Groth (Den) 11-3, 12-10, 7-11, 16-14, 8-11, 11-8