Olympics

India men face top seeds China in pre-quarterfinals

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The Indian men’s team advanced to the pre-quarterfinals despite losing 0-3 to France at the World Table Tennis Championship in Chengdu, China on Tuesday.

India escaped elimination as they were one of the higher-ranked best-placed third teams in the group stages.

As a change of strategy, India opened with Manav Thakkar against Alexis Lebrun, ranked No. 30 in the world, and the 0-3 (6-11, 8-11, 8-11) loss straightaway pushed them on the back foot.

World number 37 G Sathiyan took on Felix Brown in the second tie. But the 86th-ranked Lebrun punched way above his weight to win the match in straight games 11-4, 11-2, 11-6.

Harmeet Desai too failed to withstand the pressure despite putting up a fight against Jules Rolland, who won 11-13, 13-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 in the gripping third match to ensure France top the group after a three-way tie with Germany and India.

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Read more: India at ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships: All you need to know

India loss against France enabled Germany, who beat France 3-1 on Monday, to take the second spot in the group.

The two-higher ranked teams that finished third in their groups filled the two vacant slots in the top 16-team knockout.

India made it to the last 16 stage as the other team in contention for the spot – Romania – is ranked lower in the world standings.

India will face top seeds China first up in the pre-quarterfinals. Earlier, the Indian women’s team has also made it through to the knockouts after two wins and a loss. They will face Chinese Taipei in the Round of 16 match.

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