Sathiyan Gnanasekaran won his maiden singles medal at the Commonwealth Games as he beat England's Paul Drinkhall to clinch the bronze. The Indian won 11-9, 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9.
The first game saw the two players trade points until 5-5, before Drinkhall sped away to a 7-5 lead. Sathiyan restored parity at 8-8 and earned a gamepoint when his backhand push chipped off the edge of the table. He took the opening game 11-9.
Sathiyan trailed 2-3 but then went on a nine-point rampage to seize a comfortable lead in the second game. Sathiyan had stamped his authority on the game - he took a 7-3 lead with a brilliant backhand drive, made it 10-3 with a down-the-board serve that bamboozled Drinkhall and sealed the game with a forehand winner.
Sathiyan continued to control the rallies in the third game to race to a 5-2 lead. However, a couple unforced errors saw Drinkhall draw closer. Coach Subramanian Raman called for a timeout and Sathiyan got a brief shoulder massage, which did the trick as he took off to an 8-4 lead. It was only a matter of time before Sathiyan pocketed the game 11-5. There was little Drinkhall could do at this point - Sathiyan's table coverage was spectacular and appeared to be in the driver's seat.
Drinkhall, the veteran, summoned his best when he needed it the most: trailing 0-3 in the bronze medal play-off. The two were level at 5-5 and then Drinkhall had a streak of terrific points - a stunning backhand down-the-table and a forehand winner to storm to a 9-5 lead. Sathiyan made a late comeback but Drinkhall held on to take the game 11-8.
Drinkhall carried the momentum into the fifth game and led 4-2, but was undone by some brilliant strokeplay from Sathiyan. He made Drinkhall move to each end of the table before playing a deft drop shot, which the Englishman had no reply to. He was then shown a yellow card for kicking the ball away and trying to buy himself more time [more than the 15 seconds players are allowed between points]. An irate Drinkhall had a word with the referee and called for a technical official, but to no avail.
He channeled his frustration into the game as he worked his way into a 9-8 lead and then played a superb forehand to earn two gamepoints. Sathiyan's forehand hit the net cord and floated out the next point as Drinkhall continued his comeback trail.
Drinkhall was now a game away from taking the tie into a deciding seventh game. He held a comfortable 9-4 lead, but Sathiyan clawed his way back to 10-10, before Drinkhall snapped up the next two points to force the decider.
Sathiyan began the seventh game with intent and raced away to a 4-0 lead, then extending it to 7-1. Drinkhall, who initially struggled to cope with Sathiyan's intensity, dug deep into his reserves yet again to fight back to make it 5-7. And then he made it 8-8: from trailing 1-7, he'd made it 8-8.
Drinkhall held his composure to take the lead at 9-8, but his next two backhands sailed wide and Sathiyan wrapped up the win on the first time of asking.
Sathiyan has won two more medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games: gold in the men's team event and a silver with Sharath in the men's doubles.