India’s G Sathiyan won both his group matches against higher-ranked opponents to enter the round of 16 in the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Men’s World Cup here on Friday.
The world number 30 Sathiyan, making his World Cup debut, defeated Frenchman Simon Gauzy, ranked eight places above him, 4-3 in a thrilling and energy-sapping first match that lasted one hour and four minutes before a 4-2 win over world number 24 Groth Jonathan of Denmark.
The 26-year-old Indian topped the group D standings with four points to book a pre-quarterfinal berth. He will now face former world number one and current number eight Timo Boll of Germany in the round of 16 on Saturday.
In his first match of the day against Gauzy, Sathiyan was down two games but made an impressive recovery to win the match 11-13, 9-11, 11-8, 14-12, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8.
Gauzy looked like he was in control early on but the consistent backhand block and return shots from Sathiyan turned the match on its head.
“I am just out of words, this is a fantastic win for me. This is the first time I am beating Gauzy after losing two very close matches. I was match point up in the World Team Championships and I lost. This was getting into my head, not again,” Sathiyan said after the hard-fought win.
“My coach kept motivating me and I just kept believing. Losing the first game after being 10-6 up, I was a little upset that I could not capitalise on it. You can never take it easy against Gauzy. He is always coming back at you but I was ready for it this time and really happy that I was successful.”
Against Jonathan, the top Indian paddler dominated the match and scored an 11-3, 12-10, 7-11, 16-14, 8-11, 11-8 win.
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Gauzy advanced to the round of 16 as Group D runner-up with three points from two matches.
He beat Jonathan 4-1 (11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-2) in his second group match.