Manika Batra was the star performer for India at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, winning four medals including two gold. She was expected to repeat her performance at Birmingham too as she was again participating in four events including the Women’s Team Championship.
But the 27-year-old has turned out to be a disappointment and has crashed out of the singles and mixed doubles competitions, losing in the quarterfinals in both sections. Her only hopes remain in the women’s doubles in which she has reached the quarterfinals in the company of Diya Chitale.
With Manika as spearhead, the Indian women’s team had beaten the hitherto unbeaten Singapore in the final at Gold Coast in 2018. Manika had stunned world number 4 Feng Tianwei as well as Zhou Yihan in India’s 31 win in the final.
She then became the first Indian woman to bag an individual gold medal in CWG 2018 by beating Yu Mengyu of Singapore in the final and crowned her glory by winning India’s maiden silver medal in the women’s doubles.
But 2022 turned to be a damp squib for Manika as the women’s team was stunned by lowly Malaysia and to pile on to her misery, she and G. Sathiyan, who are ranked sixth in the world in mixed doubles, were stunned by Javen Choong and Karen Lyne 2-3 (10-12, 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 7-11), thus ending their campaign.
In the women’s singles, Manika went down to Jian Zeng of Singapore in the women’s singles quarterfinals. It was a one-sided match 4-0 (10-12, 11-9, 11-4,
So, what ails Manika Batra?
Nothing appears wrong on paper, her game is as solid as it was and at this stage, you don’t forget your strokes. Manika seems to be suffering from some mental block, as if she wants to hold back something. Her body language looks poor and she seems to be suffering silently.
The first indication that things were not as smooth as she expected came when she lost to Karen Lyne of Malaysia 11-8, 11-3, 11-9 in the team competition.
The fact that she has played six matches on Friday proves that there is no fitness issue involved.
So, now it is left for Manika and her support staff to sort this out as soon as possible otherwise this may spoil her performances on the WTT circuit.