Paddlers Manika, Harmeet off to profitable begins in Doha

Doha, March 1

Indian paddlers Manika Batra and Harmeet Desai made an impressive return to the international circuit by registering straight-game victories in their respective qualifying round-2 matches at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender series here on Monday.

Manika, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, registered a 12-10 14-12 11-8 victory over Spain’s Sofia-Xuan Zhang in women’s singles, while world No. 73 Desai notched up an easy 11-5 12-10 11-6 win over compatriot Anthony Amalraj to progress to the third round of the men’s singles qualifiers.

The season-opener is also the first international tournament Indian players are participating in after the long coronavirus-forced break.

Sutirtha Mukherjee, Mudit Dani and Diya Chitale, however, suffered defeats in their respective singles qualifying round matches.

Two-time national champion Sutirtha went down 5-11 3-11 12-10 9-11 to Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko while Dani, who is ranked 200, lost 8-11 6-11 11-8 6-11 against world No. 85 Olah Benedek of Finland.

Young Diya started off well against Romania’s Irina Ciobanu with a game’s lead, but she couldn’t capitalise on the momentum and lost the match 11-8 9-11 3-11 8-11 against the world No. 98.

Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran have received direct entries into the men’s singles main draw, while 10 other Indians are playing in the qualifiers at the event. PTI

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