Thakkar defeated Jeet Chandra in the singles final before partnering with Manush Shah to get past in the doubles against Chandra and Snehit Suravajjula
Top-seeded paddler Manav Thakkar ended the ITTF World Junior Circuit on a high note after he staked a claim of the Junior Boys Singles and doubles gold at the 2018 Portugal Junior and Cadet Open on Wednesday.
It turned out to be an all-Indian final in Guimarães, with Manav playing Jeet Chandra in a thrilling contest which went down to the wire. However, it was Manav who prevailed over his Indian compatriot with a scoreline of 11-5, 7-11, 10-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9.
Earlier in the day, he had joined forces with Manush Shah to clinch the doubles title. There too, it was an all-India contest that also could have gone either way. Nonetheless, the No. 1 Indian pair managed to overcome a stiff challenge put up by the No. 2 seeds Chandra and Snehit Suravajjula to end the competition in 11-7, 11-6, 13-15, 7-11, 11-6.
On his route to the finals, Manav had beaten 5th-seed John Oyebode of Italy by 11-9, 11-6, 11-3, 9-11, 11-5 in the pre-quarters, followed by Gonçalo Gomez of Portugal in a match that ended at 11-5, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 in the quarters.
In the semi-finals, he had faced another Indian in form of Snehit, a 3rd-seeded paddler. However, Thakkar had managed to book the place in the finals with a sublime 11-8, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 7-11, 6-11, 11-4 in the semifinals.
Manav, who struggled to find form at the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympics earlier this year, finally looked to be in rhythm in Portugal.
Of all the matches, it was the final against Jeet Chandra that proved to be the toughest for the youngster. In a mostly even contest, Manav’s experience of playing at such stages was the difference between the two, as he stopped Chandra just 2 points short in the decider.
Selena, Swastika return with a bronze
Indians were dominant in other events at the competition as well, as Selena Deepthi Selvakumar and Swastika Ghosh both won a bronze medal apiece in Junior Girls singles after they failed to get past the semifinal hurdles.
Top-seeded Indian Selena lost out to the local paddler and favourite Liu Yangzi by 8-11, 16-18, 8-11, 3-11. Whereas, it was Qin Xiao S of China who condemned Swastika to a 13-11, 11-3, 11-6, 12-10 defeat.
The Chennai girl had earlier lost her Junior Girls doubles semifinals pairing up with Italian Marie Chapet. They were beaten by the 3rd-seeded Portugal pair of Raquel Martins and Celia Silva 7-11, 6-11, 9-11 meaning they had to suffice themselves with a bronze.
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