Sreeja Akula dethrones Manika Batra to become India’s top-ranked paddler

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Sreeja Akula

Fresh from her women’s singles victory at the WTT Contender in Lagos, India’s Sreeja Akula has achieved a remarkable feat. She jumped 19 places in the world rankings to reach a career-high World No. 24. In doing so, she overtakes Manika Batra, who has slipped down to World No. 29 in the latest rankings released on Monday.

Sreeja Akula’s performance at WTT Contender

Sreeja’s historic victory in Lagos made her the first Indian to clinch a singles title at a Contender level. Notably, she also secured the women’s doubles title, becoming the first Indian to win two titles at the same event in the World Table Tennis circuit.

In the singles final, Sreeja faced a tricky opponent in Ding Yijie, a 16-year-old Chinese star-in-the-making ranked outside the top 500. Undeterred, Sreeja fought back from a game down to dominate the match and clinch the title with a 4-1 win.

In the women’s doubles final, Sreeja partnered with her Paris Olympics teammate Archana Kamath. Together, they thrashed compatriots Diya Chitale and Yashaswini Ghorpade with a 3-0 victory. This doubles partnership is crucial, as they are likely to represent India in the women’s team event at the Paris Olympics.

It’s a historic moment for India, as both the men’s and women’s teams have qualified for the Olympics for the first time. The WTT tournament served as part of their preparation camp under recently-appointed head coach Massimo Costantini.

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