10 Feb 2018

Success against the odds; then just over an hour later, trying to repeat the feat, it proved just one step too far for India’s Nithyashtree Mani on the evening of Saturday 10th February at the 2018 Oman Junior and Cadet Open in Muscat, as she tried to perform one of the most difficult tasks in sport.

After beating Guo Yuhan in the opening round of the Junior Girls’ Singles event (11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9), she then faced the latter’s Chinese national team colleague, Li Yuqi, at the quarter-final stage of the Cadet Girls’ Singles competition. Lightning did not strike twice, Li Yuqi prevailed in five games (10-12, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

However, make no mistake, it was a relieved Li Yuqi who left the arena, she was well aware she had been given a severe test by a player whose style was alien to both Chinese teenagers.

Nithyashtree Mani uses anti-spin rubber on the backhand and makes full use of the surface; the backhand block is her forte.

“I really did not expect to beat Guo Yuhan, the rubber I use, anti-spin on the backhand caused her problems; that’s the major reason why I won. Today I feel my blocking play was good; the hardest part of the match was receiving her service.” Nithyashtree Mani

The win means that there is no Chinese player remaining in the top half of the Junior Girls’ Singles event.

At the quarter-final stage Nithyashtree Mani meets Egypt’s Farida Badawy; the latter’s colleague, Hana Goda, who recorded an opening round success against India’s Mihika Rajezh Rohira (11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 13-11, 6-11, 10-12, 11-7) confronts Thailand’s Jinnipa Sawettabut. Both Jinnipa Sawettabut and Farida Badawy received direct entries to the quarter-finals.

No Chinese interest in the top half of the draw; in the lower half it is very different as China faces India. Zang Xiaotong opposes Swastika Ghosh, Zhang Binyue confronts Varuni Jaiswal.

Meanwhile, in the Cadet Girls’ Singles event, where play has progressed to the semi-final round, life is very, all three steps of the podium are destined for China. In the penultimate round Kuia Man meets Liu Xingchi, Li Yuqi opposes Ma Xinyue.

Play concludes in Muscat on Sunday 11th February.

World Junior Circuit Nithyashtree Mani

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