Ace Indian paddler Manika Batra on Saturday became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup tournament after she defeated world No.6 Hina Hayata of Japan in the women's singles bronze medal match, here on Saturday.
It was India's third medal at the continental meet. Before Manika, Chetan Baboor, with silver in 1997 and bronze in 2000, was the only Indian table tennis player to win a medal at the Asian Cup.
Competing at the Huamark Indoor Stadium here, India's top-ranked female table tennis player at world No. 44, Manika defeated Hina, the 2021 Table Tennis World Cup bronze medallist, 4-2 (11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10, 4-11, 11-2) in the playoff to decide the third place.
Earlier in the day, Manika lost to Tokyo Olympic Games bronze medallist Mima Ito of Japan in the semifinals. The world No.5 Japanese player handed Manika Batra a 4-2 (8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 7-11) defeat in a closely-fought encounter.
The 27-year-old Batra had earlier defeated world No.23 Chen Szu Yu of Chinese Taipei in a thrilling quarterfinal to become the first Indian woman to make the last-four stage of the tournament. She had also pulled off a major upset against world No.7 Chen Xingtong of China in the first round.
Manika, after clinching the bronze medal, said, "I am so happy to win the bronze medal in this Asian cup. This is really a big victory for me, defeating top players and it was so wonderful playing and fighting against them. I will continue this hard work and will give my best for my future tournaments. Just keep supporting and cheering for me Like always. Thank you everyone for being there for me."
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, India's top-ranked men's singles player at world No.39, and India's national champion Achanta Sharath Kamal ranked 44th, were knocked out in the opening round of men's singles.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Batra on her achievement. "I congratulate Manika Batra for scripting history for Indian Table Tennis at the Asian Cup by winning a Bronze. Her success will inspire many athletes across India and will make Table Tennis even more popular," tweeted PM Modi.
I congratulate Manika Batra for scripting history for Indian Table Tennis at the Asian Cup by winning a Bronze. Her success will inspire many athletes across India and will make Table Tennis even more popular. @manikabatra_TT pic.twitter.com/dLAPvAdwx0— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 19, 2022