Harmeet Desai of India in action against Tristan Flore of France during Men's Singles. Pic/PTI
New Delhi: Promising Indian paddler Harmeet Desai started his 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open table tennis tournament campaign on a positive note, registering a hard-fought 4-3 victory over 16th seeded Tristan Flore of France at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex here on Thursday.
Harmeet Desai of India celebrates after beating Tristan Flore. Pic/PTI
Ranked 112 in the world, Harmeet started off confidently against World No.77 Tristan. He attacked with his backhand and forehand and wrapped up the first three games (11-4, 11-6, 11-9) in under 20 minutes. The match was firmly in his grasp at 8-7 in the fourth when he let it slip away from him.
A lapse of concentration by Harmeet allowed the Frenchman to flex his muscles as a result of which he won the next three games (11-9, 11-9, 11-7) to restore parity.
Harmeet Desai of India celebrates after beating Tristan Flore of France. Pic/PTI
Harmeet looked a little anxious as the deciding game unfolded. They kept pace with each other but Harmeet slipped to 5-6 to face the prospect of a bitter defeat. But then, then he reeled off the next 6 points to seal his place in the next round.
In the women's singles category, India's Mousumi Paul pulled off a sensational victory, upsetting the country's top seeded player Manika Batra. the 10th seeded player began as a firm favourite but she quickly ran into trouble, losing the opening game 7-11. She pulled one back 11-8 but she couldn't dictate the pace or flow of the match as Mousumi attacked confidently.
Manika's backhand blocks were not effective enough, allowing Mousumi to kill the points almost at will. She lost the next three games without as much of a fight, going down 7-11, 4-11, 8-11.
With India's best hope out of the race, a lot rested on the shoulders of the newly crowned national champion Madhurima Patkar. But after showing initial promise by winning the opening game against Wai Yam Soo of Hong Kong, she faded away. She lost the next four games to suffer an embarrassing defeat against the Under-21 singles silver medallist.
In the other match, Krittwika Roy was beaten by fifth seeded Huajun Jiang of Hong Kong. She displayed great skill and grit to stretch her all the way to decider. In the deciding game, she was on the cusp of victory five times, but couldn't convert any of them. Huajun managed to steak it, taking the game 19-17.