NEW DELHI: In Another first for Indian table tennis, the doubles combine of G Sathiyan and Anthony Amalraj clinched a bronze in the World Tour Platinum Australian Open on Friday. This was the first instance of an Indian pair winning a medal in a platinum-tier event.
The duo lost in the semifinals to World No 1 pair of Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu of Korea 12-14, 9-11, 8-11. Both the paddlers combined with each other after a gap of two years, which makes the achievement even more special. En route to the semifinals, the two went on to beat World No 4 Korean pair of Jang Woojin and Lim Jonghoon 5-11, 11-6, 14-12, 11-8 in the quarterfinals.
India’s highest ranked paddler Sathiyan was ecstatic. “All the top players play in platinum-tier events and the level is almost comparable to the World Championships. So it shows how good we were, and how close we are to making it to the elite level,” he told this daily from Geelong.
The duo had teething problems initially when they had combined in the last week’s Korea Open where they could not make it to the main round. “Sathiyan had been playing doubles with Sharath anna. So initially it was a little difficult but we have played together quite a lot in the past. So we soon got adjusted to each other’s playing style and managed to play well in this tournament,” Amalraj added.
Both are specialist singles players, so preparing for a doubles contest was not the same. And both worked on their shortcomings post their Korea Open disappointment. The victory over the World No 4 pair was a highlight and both said that the way they played in that match showed how close they are to the best in the business. “We had lost the first game and managing to come back against such a formidable twosome just shows that on our day we are no pushovers.”
India’s coach Sandeep Gupta remarked that it was a “proud moment for us.” The performance Down Under will serve as a big boost ahead of the highly-anticipated Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships in Cuttack from July 17.
The bronze was the only silver lining as other Indians failed to cross the preliminary-round hurdles in all events, including Sathiyan and Sharath, the only two Indians who could make it to the third round of qualifying matches in men’s singles before bowing out.