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Sathiyan Gnanasekaran crashes out of Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo: Indian paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran crashed out of the Tokyo Olympics after losing 4-3 to Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hang in the second round of men’s singles event, here on Sunday.

Sathiyan, received a bye in the first round after Lam took the opening game 11-7. However, the Indian paddler bounced back with a 4-1 headstart in the second and maintained a lead throughout the game, displaying good anticipation and reflexes to win it 11-7.

In the third game, Sathiyan raced to a 3-0 advantage. A powerful down-the-line forehand smash after an angled serve made it 5-1 as Sathiyan’s rhythm improved further. He won a couple of rallies to surge to 9-2 and aced the third game 11-4.

He began the fourth with an inside-out forehand and assumed total control of the game, charging to 8-0. Sathiyan’s defence was nearly impregnable as he continued to dominate the long rallies. Hang fought back to 5-10 but a forehand smash error gave Sathiyan the fourth game 11-5.

Lam Siu Hang came hard at G Sathiyan in the fifth game, fewer errors and some aggression helping him edge the game 11-9 despite late resistance from the Indian.

A couple of unreturned serves gave Hang the momentum early in the sixth game. He then unleashed forehand and backhand smashes to move to 7-3. Sathiyan hung in, though, and clawed back to 8-9. Sathiyan saved two game points but Hang pushed the match to the seventh and final game as he edged the sixth 12-10.

After taking three of the first four games, G Sathiyan conceded the next three to lose 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 10-12, 6-11.

In the decider, an early missed forehand from Sathiyan gave Hang a 4-2 lead following which the Indian called for a time-out.

Hang kept up the pressure with a forehand smash and held his lead at 6-4. Hang had the better of some long exchanges and had match point when G Sathiyan tried to force a forehand smash but sent it long.

The next shot from the Indian table tennis player sailed long too, giving the Hong Kong paddler an upset win.

India’s other participant in the men’s singles Sharath Kamal will take on Tiago Apolonia of Portugal on Monday in his campaign opener. If he wins, Sharath will face second seed Ma Long of China in the third round on Tuesday.

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