Manika Batra creates history, becomes 1st Indian woman to reach TT Asian Cup semifinal; all you need to know


India’s ace paddler Manika Batra on Friday etched her name in the history books as she became the first-ever Indian woman to qualify for the semifinals of Asian Cup in Table Tennis. The 27-year-old defeated Chen Szu Yu 4-3 in Bangkok to achieve an illustrious feat, no other Indian woman had managed before her. 

Batra, who has had a mixed bag in the year 2022 so far, rose to her best as she managed to oust the world number 23 by (6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9) in the women’s singles quarterfinals. Ranked world number 44 herself, the Indian ace will face off against the winner of the other quarterfinal between Jeon Jihee of Korea and Mima Ito of Japan. 

After failing to win a single medal at the Commonwealth Games 2022, Batra appeared to be struggling with some off-the-field issues that affected her performance in the TT court as well. However, she was able to overcome her blues and bounce back with a resounding victory. 

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Earlier on Thursday, she had also defeated world number No.7 Chen Xingtong of China to reach the quarterfinals, and now, the Indian paddler will await her destiny to see whom she will face in the final four. 

For the unversed, Manika Batra had won four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, and the Delhi-born athlete was also awarded the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna in the year 2020. Having begun playing TT at age of four, she followed her elder siblings both of whom played TT. 

Due to her rise through the ages, Batra was also given many modelling opportunities but she decided to turn them all down, and she also dropped one year of her studies to solely concentrate on her playing career.

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In September 2021, the Indian athlete caused a big controversy after she accused Indian national coach Soumyadeep Roy of pressuring her to lose a game so that one of his disciples could win at the Olympic Qualifiers. 

The 2018 Arjuna Award winner will be hoping to go all the way and become the first Indian woman to clinch the Asian Cup trophy.  

With inputs from IANS

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