Doha, Ace India table tennis players Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee began their quest for a berth at this year’s Tokyo Olympics on a winning note with comfortable straight-set victories in their respective women’s singles knockout stage-I opening round matches at the World Singles Qualification Tournament in Doha.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manika dominated Bulgaria’s Maria Yovkova during her 11-5, 11-7, 11-4, 11-0 win. While Sutirtha faced some resistance from her opponent Lisa Lung in the fourth game but it was too late for Italian as the Indian wrapped the game as well as the match 11-3, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10 in her favour.
Meanwhile, Achanta Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan suffered defeats against Italian opponents in their respective men’s singles opening matches. 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 Indians had received bye in the opening round.
A total of nine Olympic qualification places — four men and five women — are up for grabs at the event. In the men’s category, players are split into three knockout rounds with the winner of each knockout round qualifying for the Olympics. The losing finalist and semi-finalists from each of the three knockouts, will be drawn into another knockout stage and the winner will secure the remaining one spot.
For the women’s category, entries are split into four knockouts with the winner of each knockout securing a spot in singles at the Tokyo Olympics. However, losing finalist from each of the four knockouts will fight for the remaining single berth as they will participate in the second stage where they will be drawn into a final knockout and the winner will make it to the Olympics.