G Sathiyan became the second Indian and the first since 1976 to qualify for the men's singles quarterfinal stage at the Asian TT Championship. In the semifinal, Sathiyan (ranked 30) gave the World Number 4 a run for his money before going down fighting.
Under the Italian, India had made rapid strides with historic performances at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games, where the country ended a 60-year-wait for a table tennis medal.
Sporting a rejigged shorter format this season, each team will play five ties -- compared to seven last year -- with a match decided over three games. If the scores are tied at 10-all, a golden point shall decide the winner.
The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) had short-listed Papic back in March but it was only a couple of weeks ago that SAI sent him the contract. More crucial time was lost when he took some time to sign the contract.
While nine paddlers qualified in the women's category, the men's qualifiers saw six Indians sailing to the main draw. The women will join the already seeded Archana Kamath, Ayhika Mukherjee and Madhurika Patkar.