Tough Draws for India TT Team; Manika-Sharath Face 3rd Seeds in Round 1
With Mixed Doubles finally being introduced to the Olympics, Batra and Kamal wait for their chance to shine
The 12th-seeded Indian pair of Manika Batra and Sharath Kamal are all set to face the third-seeded pair of Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Cheng of Chinese Taipei in the mixed doubles round-of-16 clash at the Tokyo Olympics on July 24.
The draws for the table tennis events were announced on Wednesday. The mixed doubles event is making its debut at the Olympics.
Seeded 34 at the Olympics, Manika will open her singles campaign on the same day as her mixed doubles match, against Great Britain's Tin Tin Ho, ranked 94th in the world.
In round 2, Manika will be up against Ukraine's Margaryta Pesotska and is scheduled to Sofia Polcanova of Austria in the third round.
Her teammate, Sutirtha Mukherjee, seeded 52nd, will take on world No 78, Linda Bergstrom in the opening round.
Sutirtha will face Portugal's Yu Fu in the second round followed by host nation Japan's Mima Ito in the third round. 20-year-old Ito, ranked second in the world, is a central figure in Japan's squad.
India's top male paddlers Sharath Kamal (20th seed) and G Sathiyan (26th seed) have received a bye in the first round in the men's singles draw.
Sathiyan will either meet Brian Afanador of Puerto Rico or Hong Kong's Lam Siu Hang in the second round before facing Japanese teen sensation and third seed Tomokazu Harimoto in the third round.
Harimoto and Sathiyan have played against each other on four occasions with the Japanese winning thrice. The only time Sathiyan beat Harimoto was in the 2019 Asian Championships.
Sharath is slated to play against either Portugal's Tiago Apolonia or Nigeria's Olajide Momtayo in the second round.
His clash in the third round will be against second seed Ma Long of China, the 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist. In the five matches between Sharath and Long, the Chinese won all five times.
The table tennis matches for Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 24 to August 6 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
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