Sathiyan Gnanasekaran entered the round-of-16 stage of the ITTF World Cup after topping the preliminary group with two wins out of two in Chengdu, China on Friday. He sealed his progress with an impressive 11-3, 12-10, 7-11, 16-14, 8-11, 11-8 win over Denmark's Jonathan Groth.
Aggressive from the outset, world No. 30 Sathiyan took the game to the world No. 24 Groth and slid into a comfortable two games-to-nil lead. Groth, however, fought back to win the third game before pushing Sathiyan to his limit in an epic game four. A quick exchange of games thereafter saw the Indian seal the deal four games to two in 37 minutes.
He had earlier opened with a thrilling come-from-behind win against Frenchman Simon Gauzy. Despite going two games down against an opponent he had not beaten before, Sathiyan triumphed 11-13, 9-11, 11-8, 14-12, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8.
Sathiyan is the second Indian to make it to this stage of the World Cup in the competition's 39-year history. In 2014, Achanta Sharath Kamal had been the first Indian to qualify for the round-of-16 stage, where he lost (3-4) to Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
World Cup format
Twenty players qualify for the World Cup as per their performances in the various qualifying tournaments (continental cups). The top eight seeds (as per current world ranking) qualify directly into a round-of-16 knockout stage.
Seeds 9-20 are drawn into four groups of three players each with the top two players from each group will join the top eight seeds in the knockout stage. Sathiyan, having finished sixth in the Asian Cup, qualified as the 17th seed and was drawn into the group comprising Gauzy and Groth.
In the round of 16 on Saturday, Sathiyan will face Germany's Timo Boll.