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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Chengdu (China): Star Indian paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran stormed into the main draw of the ongoing International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Men's World Cup after winning both his group matches on Friday.

In his first match, Sathiyan defeated Simon Gauzy of France 4-3 (11-13, 9-11, 11-8, 14-12, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8) to register his maiden victory over the French paddler.

The 17th seed was trailing 0-2 in the match. However, World No. 30 made a stunning comeback to upset the World No. 22.

In the match that lasted for one hour and four minutes, Sathiyan showed immense quality at the table and the grit to do what he's done. Gauzy looked like he was in control early on but the consistent backhand block and return shots from Gnanasekaran turned the match on its head.

"I am just out of words; this is a fantastic win for me. This is the first time I am beating Gauzy after losing two very close matches. I was match point up in the world team championships and I lost. This was getting into my head, not again. My coach kept motivating me and I just kept believing," Sathiyan said after his win.

"Gauzy played very well and thanks to the crowd for their support. Losing the first game after being 10-6 up, I was a little upset that I could not capitalise on it. Gauzy is that kind of a player, you can never take it easy with him. He is always coming back at you but I was ready for it this time and really happy that I was successful," he added.

In his second match, Sathiyan defeated World No. 24 Jonathan Groth of Denmark 4-2 (11-3, 12-10, 7-11, 16-14, 8-11, 11-8).

Sathiyan set the tone from the start and ran through the points and the bagged the first game 11-3. Groth ranked World No. 24, did try to gain some points but Sathiyan managed to win it 2-10.

The player from Denmark however, clinched the third game 11-7. But Sathiyan bounced back immediately in the next game-winning it 14-16.

The Danish then came back to win the next game 11-8. However, he was made to pay for his string of errors as the Indian claimed game six 11-8 to top Group D and progress to the main draw.

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