Ahmedabad: New world No.1 junior paddler Manav Thakkar finished runner-up at the 2017 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Junior Circuit Finals in Luxembourg, losing in the final to Kanak Jha of the US in a match in which the Surat lad twice went up a game.
In a seesaw encounter, Thakkar won the first before losing the second. After taking the third, he lost momentum to go down with a final score of 11-9, 3-11, 11-9, 6-11, 3-11, 9-11, 6-11.
Earlier in the semifinals, third seed Thakkar beat 10th seed Youssef Abdel-Aziz in straight games 11-8, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5.
“This has been a tremendous effort and we are all proud of his achievements. He may have lost in the final, but he has been in good form and we wish he continues it,” said Vipul Mittra, president of the Gujarat State Table Tennis Association (GSTTA).
In the latest rankings released by the ITTF on 1 February, Thakkar rose from No.2 to the top spot in the world, replacing Chinese Taipei’s Li Hsin Yang, to become the first Indian junior table tennis player to do so.
“Yes, the last 12 months have been phenomenal. Climbing to the top of the rankings is a dream come true. I am very pleased and enjoying the success. However, I don’t want to be satisfied with this. I wish to win more and more medals and laurels for India. At the same time, there is scope for improvement in my game and I am working hard towards it,” said Thakkar, who won the India Open and Slovenia Open on the world junior ITTF circuit in 2017.