India’s Manika Batra lost in the semi-final stage of her knockout section at the World Singles Qualification Tournament in Doha on Sunday.
Up against Yang Xiaoxin from Monaco, India’s No 1 ranked women’s singles player went down 1-4 despite a good fight. The world No 44 won the match 11-9, 11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9 against the world No 63 from India. Batra was the last Indian paddler in fray at the Doha world qualification event.
With that, India’s hopes of clinching one of the nine overall quota places (men: 4, women: 5) that were available from the event came to an end.
On Sunday, Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee began their quest for the Tokyo Olympics berth on winning note as the duo registered comfortable straight-set victories in their respective women’s singles knockout stage-I opening round matches.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist Batra dominated Bulgaria’s Maria Yovkova during her 11-5, 11-7, 11-4, 11-0 win. While Mukherjee faced some resistance from her opponent Lisa Lung in the fourth game but it was too late for Italian as Mukherjee wrapped the game as well as the match 11-3, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10 in her favour.
But Mukherjee’s campaign came to a close in the next round against Polina Mikhailova. The Russian won 10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5. Batra kept her hopes alive with a 12-10, 11-3, 11-6, 11-4 win against Uzbekistan’s Rimma Gufranova.
Meanwhile, Achanta Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan suffered defeats against Italian opponents in their respective men’s singles opening matches on Sunday. While Sathiyan lost to Mihai Bobocica 11-7, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5, seasoned campaigner Sharath also couldn’t manage hold edge over Niagol Stoyanov as he went down fighting 11-9, 6-11, 8-11, 4-11, 11-8, 10-12. Both the Indians had received bye in the opening round.
Up next is the crucial Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament from 18 to 20 March in Doha for the Indian paddlers. Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan are the top ranked paddlers in the fray there in men’s singles, while Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee are also in the top four for women’s singles. Sharath and Batra are entered in the mixed doubles draw where one spot is available.
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