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New Delhi, January 25, 2020
India's women paddlers yet again faltered in the first playoff match as France defeated India 3-2 in the 2020 ITTF Qualification Tournament for Tokyo Olympics at Gondomar today. This, effectively, has ended the Indian women's campaign in Portugal.
Indian women, ranked No. 23, just a place above France who are 24, made a meek surrender after having taken the lead through Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukehrjee in the opening rubber. The Indian duo beat Stephanie Loeuillette and Yuan Jian Nan 11-7, 6-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8.
Though Manika lost her opening singles 7-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-3, 7-11 to Marie Migot, ranked 195, the 61 ranked Indian was able to put India back in the reckoning when she won 11-7, 12-10, 11-4 against Stephanie Loeuillette in the second singles.
But the euphoria lasted just a couple of games as Ayhika, playing the last rubber against Marie, led 2-1 but her French opponent pulled level before winning the decider 6-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9 to sending India packing.
With just two singles entries allowed per NOC, the Indian women, especially Manika and Archana Kamath, can hope for the best when they participate in the April event in Thailand for singles qualification.