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Paddler Manika Batra reaches career-high ranking of World No. 24

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Manika Batra (File image)

New Delhi: Ace women's table tennis player Manika Batra rose to a career-best singles ranking of 24 following her success in the Saudi Smash, becoming the first Indian woman paddler to break into the top-25 in world rankings.

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The 28-year-old Khel Ratna awardee, who was in 39th spot before the tournament, jumped 15 spots following her run in Jeddah, where she reached the quarterfinals.

Manika, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist in individual and team categories, had shocked multiple-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist China's Wang Manyu (seeded second) on her way to the last-eight in the Saudi Smash.

It was also the first time an Indian women player advanced that far in the tournament. Manika's rise through the draw finally earned her 350 points.

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In an Instagram post, Manika, who had made history by becoming the first Indian paddler to reach the women's singles quarterfinals at the Hangzhou last year, wrote that the ranking boost had come at the right time as she aims to secure a Paris Olympics berth.

"An extreme confidence boost on the road to Paris 2024. Breaking into the Top-25 and achieving the best rank ever achieved by an Indian in women's singles of the ITTF Ranking," wrote Manika.

Manika also thanked her coach Aman Balgu and sparring partner Kirill Barabanov of Belarus for her success.

"Thank you, everyone, for your blessings and support. Especially my coach @amanbalgu, my sparring partner @kirill_barabanov and my family for the constant support. Onward and upward towards Paris 2024," she added.

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