Harmeet Desai and Ayhika Mukherjee lived up to their dark-horse status by scalping top guns in the men’s and women’s singles finals here on Monday, the concluding day of the 21st Commonwealth table tennis championships.
Harmeet, who halted giant-killer Pang Yu En Koen’s run in the morning session, stunned top seed G. Sathiyan in a thrilling final that went right down to the wire to cap a memorable week.
Ayhika, meanwhile, continued her sensational run by first sending top seed Ho Tin-Tin of England home in the semifinals and virtually running over second seed Madhurika Patkar in the final.
Harmeet made a strong comeback after conceding the first two games to favourite Sathiyan, the World No. 24, by levelling the match at two games apiece.
He then held his nerve in the tie-break of the fifth, eventually clinching the game 17-15, using his forehand down-the-line winners at crunch moments.
Sathiyan then bounced back to stretch the match into the decider.
At 3-all in the decider, with the chief guest entering the packed auditorium, the match had an unanticipated stoppage. Sathiyan then ran up a 6-3 lead, but Harmeet regained his composure and finished the match in style combining his key weapon of down-the-line top-spin with back-hand punches.
Even before the final session began, India was assured of a clean sweep of gold medals, with all four finals being all-Indian affairs. That all four saw the favourites succumbing under pressure meant the table tennis lovers were treated to a fine feast.
Men: Final: Harmeet Desai bt G. Sathiyan 9-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8, 17-15, 7-11, 11-9; Semifinals: Sathiyan bt Thomas Jarvis (Eng) 16-14, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9; Harmeet bt Pang Yu En Koen (Sin) 10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 11-6, 11-2.
Doubles: Final: A. Amalraj & Manav Thakkar bt A. Sharath Kamal & G. Sathiyan 8-11, 11-6, 13-11, 12-10; Semifinals: Sharath & Sathiyan bt Pang Yu En Koen & Chua Shao Han Josh (Sin) 12-10, 11-4, 14-12; Amalraj & Thakkar bt Samuel Walker & Thomas Jarvis (Eng) 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5.
Women: Final: Ayhika Mukherjee bt Madhurika Patkar 11-6, 11-4, 11-9, 19-17; Semifinals: Ayhika bt Ho Tin-Tin (Eng) 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-4; Madhurika bt Sreeja Akula 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 14-12.
Doubles: Final: Pooja Sahasrabudhe & Krtittwika Sinha Roy bt Sreeja Akula & Mousumi Paul 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10; Semifinals: Sahasrabudhe & Krtittwika bt Goi Rui Xuan & Wong Xin Ru (Sin) 11-7, 12-10, 11-9; Sreeja & Mousumi bt Sutirtha Mukherjee & Ayhika Mukherjee 11-8, 11-8, 11-6.