New Delhi, August 8: Dabang Delhi held their nerves to score a tight 8-7 victory over Chennai Lions in the last league tie here on Thursday but will still face table-toppers U Mumba in the first semifinal of the Ultimate Table Tennis on Friday. Their victory was not enough to stop U Mumba from catapulting themselves to the second position with 42 points, earning a clash against Goa Challengers in the second semifinal on Saturday. Ultimate Table Tennis 2019: Chennai Lions Defeats RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata and Get Closer to a Semi-Final Berth.
Delhi finished at par with the Challengers with 41 points, but won fewer matches than the team from Goa. Germany's Petrissa Solja (world no. 24) gave the Lions the early lead, whipping India's Krittwika Sinha Roy 3-0. She began strongly, attacking the lines to ease to a 4-1 lead in the first set. She held on to that advantage to win it 11-6. Ultimate Table Tennis 2019: U Mumba Punish Goa Challengers to March into UTT Semi-Finals.
The second set was a much tighter affair, with Krittwika keeping pace till 9-9. But a backhand error at that stage allowed Petrissa to go for the kill. The third set too turned out to be a one-sided affair despite an initial fight from Krittwika. The much-awaited contest between Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan G produced a series of spectacular shots, but it was not a close encounter as was expected. Sharath played an attacking game but Sathiyan defended smartly, forcing the World No. 37 to commit errors.
Sathiyan broke away at 5-5, taking four straight points to make it 9-5 in the first set. That was enough for him to win it 11-8. The second set too was even but only till 4-4. Sharath slipped into the lead for the first time, making it 6-4. But Sathiyan quickly caught up and wrapped it up at 11-8. Sharath fell behind in the third set too, looking at a possible wipe-out at 5-8. But he clawed back to 8-8 and then 9-9 before taking the next 2 points to clinch a crucial point for the Lions.
Chennai Lions, however, regained the lead, with Sharath and Petrissa making the most of Dabang's decision to field young Naina Jaiswal in mixed doubles. Sweden' Jon Persson stood up bravely for his partner but didn't really stand a chance against the veteran pair of Sharath-Petrissa who walked away with a facile 3-0 victory.
Persson got his revenge in the next match, though, with Chennai Lions giving another young Indian, Anirban Ghosh, an opportunity. Anirban showed his potential, unleashing a few impressive shots but couldn't cope with Persson's experience. He lost 3-11, 5-11, 8-11. In the final match, Romania's Bernadette Szocs (world no. 14) tamed Madhurika Patkar 3-0 to give her side the victory.