Doha: Ace paddlers Achanta Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, and Manika Batra started their campaign at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Star Contender on a winning note and progressed into the second round of singles competition here on Monday.
Melbourne Commonwealth Games champion Kamal struggled in the initial stages of the game as he went down in the first game against Brian Afanador. The world No. 32 recovered well to gain the required momentum and gave no further chance to his opponent before sealing the match 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-1 against the Puerto Rican in the men’s singles first round.
The Indian will face world No. 16 Patrick Franziska of Germany in the next round on Tuesday.
World No. 37 Sathiyan was also trailing 0-2 in the match. However, he made a remarkable comeback with a counter-attacking display and pulled off a sensational come-from-behind 9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 victory against his French opponent Emmanuel Lebesson in the first round of men’s singles event.
Sathiyan will now face a tough task in the next round as he is set to take on world No. 5 Japanese paddler Tomokazu Harimoto.
In the women’s singles opening round match, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manika notched up a comfortable straight-set 11-5, 11-9, 11-9 win against Chinese Taipei’s Hsein-Tzu Cheng to progress into the next round where she will face challenges from World No. 3 Mima Ito of Japan.
Sathiyan, Kamal, and Manika have earned direct entries into the singles draw at the ongoing tournament. The second round matches will take place on Tuesday.
Earlier, in the first qualifying round of men’s singles, Anthony Amalraj suffered a 6-11, 11-9, 3-11, 7-11 defeat against Mizuki Oikawa of Japan while Harmeet Desai lost to Ukraine’s Yevhen Pryshchepa with 10-12, 9-11, 11-13, 9-11 score line.
In the women’s singles qualifiers, Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ahyika Mukherjee failed to progress to the third round. While Sutirtha lost the hard-fought match 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 9-11, 9-11 to Hayeong Kim of Korea, Ayhika suffered a 5-11, 11-13, 7-11 loss against Irina Ciobanu of Romania.