By Armstrong Vaz
Doha (Qatar), Jan 10 (SocialNews.XYZ) Indian paddlers Manika Batra and Sreeja Akula reached the pre-quarterfinals of the Asian WTTC Continental Stage at the Lusail Sports Complex, here on Tuesday.
India's national champion Sreeja stunned World No. 21 Chen Szu-Yu of Chinese Taipei to reach the pre-quarterfinals. After being down 3-1, Sreeja rallied from behind, brought the best game from her kitty to overcome the seasoned campaigner and register the biggest upset of the tournament.
Joining her to the next stage was Manika, who coasted to an easy 4-0 win over her Hong Kong opponent.
Three other Indian women paddlers Diya Chitale, Reeth Tennison, and Swastika Ghosh didn't have a great day in the singles category as they crashed out of the tournament which is serving as a qualifying stage for the World Championships.
The wins kept Manika and Sreeja's hopes alive of making it to the Worlds to be held in Durban, South Africa in May 2023.
Sreeja, ranked 72 on the ITTF World Ranking computer, overcame a 3-1 deficit to register her biggest career win till winning it 4-3 (11-2, 5-11, 2-11, 5-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-8) in a match which lasted for 52 minutes.
The 24-year-old from Hyderabad city started off on an impressive note winning the first game but then flattered as her opponent won the next three to take a runaway 3-1 lead.
Sreeja, however, made a remarkable recovery to win the fifth, sixth and deciding game in the seven-game encounter much to the delight of the small but vociferous supporters in the stands. She now will take on Miyu Nagasaki of Japan, who got a walkover over Chinese Taipei's Cheng I-Ching.
On the other hand, India's top ranked player and World No.35, Manika got the better of Zhu Chengzhu in straight games 4-0 (13-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8) and move into the round of 16 where she will clash with Suthasini Sawettabut of Thailand who got the better of Jingyi Zhou of Singapore 4-1 (11-2, 4-11, 11-6,11-4, 11-7).
Three other Indian women paddlers fell out in the round of 32 with Diya, Reeth and Swastika crashing out after losing to Japanese and Korean opponents.
Diya went down 1-4 (11-8, 11-4, 9-11, 11-4, 11-3) to Miu Hirano of Japan, while Reeth lost in straight games 0-4 (11-7, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3) to HIna Hayata of Japan. Swastika went down to Jihee Jeon of Korea also in straight games 0-4 (11-8, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5).
In the men's singles round of 32 matches, Manush Utpal Shah and Harmeet Desai lost their respective matches and crashed out. Harmeet lost in straight games 0-4 (11-6, 11-8, 11-6, 11-7) to Zhendong Fan of China and Manush went down also in straight games 4-0 (11-4, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5) to Jonghoon Lim of Korea.
Achanta Sarath Kamal will take on Amin Ahmadian of Iran, later in the day.