India No. 2 Harmeet Desai sizzled in DHFL Maharashtra United’s 15-12 victory over Oilmax Stag Yoddhas on day three of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) here on Saturday.
Harmeet Desai of DHFL Maharashtra United pulled off a stunning 3-0 (11-6, 11-10, 11-9) win over Greek world No. 19 Panagiotis Gionis (Oilmax Stag Yoddhas) in the men’s singles (Foreign v Indian) to set the pace for edge-of-the-seat weekend action.
Desai, ranked 79 in the world, hit form early to take the opening game with ease. The second game saw Gionis, strong in defence, hustle the Indian for every point before the local star pulled through on the final point. The third game ran equally close, but the 24-year-old Desai held his nerve for a sensational win to hand his team three full points.
“This was the first time I beat a top 20 player and it definitely is the biggest win of my career,” said an elated Harmeet after the match.
The results of the evening were largely unpredictable with both sides putting up stellar performances.
World No. 22 Liu Jia extended the lead to 5-1 for DHFL Maharashtra United with a 2-1 (11-6, 5-11, 11-7) win over Oilmax Stag Yoddhas’ Manika Batra in the women’s singles (Indian v Foreign).
Delhi’s Manika, ranked 104, bounced back to win the second game in style and a point for her team before the experienced Austrian took control of the final game.
Oilmax Stag Yoddhas came back strongly in mixed doubles (Foreign/Indian pair) as Aruna Quadri (Nigeria)/ Manika Batra thumped DHFL Maharashtra United’s Joao Monteiro (Portugal)/ Pooja Sahasrabudhe 3-0 (11-1, 11-4, 11-7) to cut their points deficit to 4-5.
Highly-rated Gionis (Oilmax Stag Yoddhas) lost for a second time, with Portuguese world No. 48 Joao Monteiro emerging a 3-0 (11-10, 11-3, 11-4) winner in the men’s singles (foreign player category) to hand DHFL Maharashtra United an 8-4 lead on points going into game 5.
Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting extended DHFL Maharashtra United’s lead to 11-7 with a 2-1 (11-7, 8-11, 11-4) win over Jubin Kumar (Oilmax Stag Yoddhas) in the men’s singles (Indian v Foreign).
World No 28 Doo Hoi Kem then brushed aside Krittwika Sinha Roy of DHFL Maharashtra United 3-0 (11-9, 11-5, 11-8) in the women’s singles (foreign v Indian) to reduce the difference to just one point. (DHFL Maharashtra United 11, Oilmax Stag Yoddhas 10).
It was left for DHFL Maharashtra United’s Wong Chun to edge out Quadri 2-1 (11-7, 11-10, 9-11) in the men’s singles (foreign player category) to help DHFL Maharashtra United stay ahead 13-11 on points, going into the evening’s final match.
Veteran Fu Yu helped DHFL Maharashtra United seal the deal (15-12) with a 2-1 (11-9, 7-11, 11-9) win over Russian Polina Mikhailova (Oilmax Stag Yoddhas) in the women’s singles (foreign player category).
Day three witnessed a much better crowd turnout and the players seemed to have adapted to the ten-second rule, as none of them were docked points.
Oilmax Stag Yoddhas 12-15 DHFL Maharashtra United
MS – Panagiotis Gionis vs Harmeet Desai (0-3) (6-11, 10-11, 9-11)
WS – Manika Batra vs Liu Jia (1-2) (6-11, 11-5, 7-11)
MD – Aruna Quadri/ Manika Batra vs Joao Monteiro/ Pooja Sahasrabudhe (3-0) (11-1, 11-4, 11-7)
MS – Panagiotis Gionis vs Joao Monteiro (0-3) (10-11, 3-11, 4-11)
WS – Doo Hoi Kem vs Liu Jia (2-1) (11-5, 11-7, 10-11)
MS – Jubin Kumar vs Wong Chun Ting (1-2) (7-11, 11-8, 4-11)
WS – Doo Hoi Kem vs Krittwika Sinha Roy (3-0) (11-9, 11-5, 11-8)
MS – Aruna Quadri vs Wong Chun Ting (1-2) (7-11, 10-11, 11-10)
WS – Polina Mikhailova vs Fu Yu (1-2) (9-11, 11-7, 9-11)