NEW DELHI: After a gap of over three years, the pair of Manika Batra and G Sathiyan combined and tasted instant success at the WTT Contender Budapest on Friday. The Indian paddlers overcame World No 94 Hungarian pairing of Dora Madarasz and Nandor Ecseki 3-1 to win the mixed doubles title.
The duo came together for the first time since their Commonwealth Games bronze winning effort. And with only a day or two of practice, they managed to produce the goods. One of their most impressive wins came in the quarterfinals where they overcome World No 7 pair of Barbara Balazova and Lubomir Pistej from Slovakia.
"A win on the international arena is always a commendable result. Personally, after the Olympic disappointment, winning a trophy gives confidence. More the matches I play. the rhythm and sharpness will slowly start coming back," Sathiyan told this daily from the venue.
"Manika's attacking game plus her clever use of rubbers compliments my style and we are in it for the long haul and hopefully, we can keep doing well in the upcoming tournaments to come."
Since the CWG, Manika has been playing this format with A Sharath Kamal but right after the Tokyo Olympics, she gave a call to Sathiyan about long term plans which include the 2024 Paris Games. There are not too many doubles, mixed doubles competitions in India and to achieve consistent success, a well laid out plan is required, something both sets of personal coaches — S Raman and Sanmay Paranjape have already alluded to.
"They have been discussing and are trying to come up with a proper plan which includes which tournaments to play as well as practice schedule and strategies. And that is very important as we need to improve our rankings substantially which will allow us a better draw which can substantially increase the chances of success," Sathiyan revealed.
The win will propel them into the Top 20s which will make them the highest ranked Indian pair. And next up for them is the WTT Star Contender Doha next month followed by the Asian Championships.
This tournament is the fourth tier event in the new WTT format and playing here was a tactical decision. "It gives us a better chance to win and also provides us all with much needed boost after Tokyo. We need to play smart and pick and choose from lower tier and top events. Pressure and eyes will now be on us but it is a long process and we need to keep at it to achieve success," the paddler from Chennai added.
While Manika is all set to return home, Sathiyan will play singles in the Czech Open next.