CHENNAI: India’s Manika Batra and Sharath Kamal qualified for the mixed doubles draw at the Tokyo Games after stunning the Korean pair of Sangsu Lee and Jihee Jeon 4-2 (8-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8) in keenly-contested finals of the Asian qualifiers in Doha on Saturday.
What was most impressive about Manika and Sharath’s performance was the way they turned things around against the World No.5 pair. The Indian duo lost the first two games, and finally found their bearing in the third. The Indian pair won six points in a row at one point in that game. They dropped just one point overall on their own serve to win the third game. In the subsequent game, Manika and Sharath looked in good touch as they won it 11-6 to make it 2-2.
Both pairs fought tooth and nail in the fifth game but it was the Indian pair who had the final laugh as they won it 13-11 to take a 3-2 lead in the proceedings. The momentum they gained in the fifth game held them in good stead in the subsequent period of play.
In the sixth game, both pairs traded blows but it was Manika and Sharath who upped the ante during crunch situations to seal the deal 11-8.
Manika and Sharath made the finals of the qualifiers after defeating the Singapore pair of Ye Lin and Yew En Koen Pang 4-2 (12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 13-11).