New Delhi: Ayhika Mukherjee stood tall among eight Indian paddlers, qualifying for the main draw of the WTT Singapore Smash 2022 that concluded on Thursday.
Ayhika defeated Sabina Surjan of Serbia 12-10, 5-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 in a tough battle that lasted nearly 45 minutes. In the main draw beginning from Saturday, the Indian will meet Chen Szu-Yu of Chinese Taipei in the $2 million prize money event.
Among the women players, Sutirtha Mukherjee was another Indian who reached the third round but lost to Mateja Jager of Croatia 11-7, 6-11, 14-16, 8-11. Boh Madhurika Patkar and Sreeja Akuka entered the second round but could not progress any further, while Archna Kamath lost in the first round.
However, Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar failed to go past the third round as Manav Thakkar first lost to Benedek Olab of Sweden 61-1, 11-8, 11-7, 12-14, 8-11, and Harmeet followed suit, going down 8-11, 7-11, 5-11 to Shunsuke Togami of Japan. Earlier, Anthony Amalraj lost in the first round to Liao Cheng-Ting of Taipei 0-3 without any fight.
The 126th ranked Ayhika began well in the first against the Croat, who is two rungs below her. Yet, she could not maintain the momentum and lost the next two games to go down 1-2. Ayhika mustered courage and fought back well to claim the crucial two games to enter the main draw.
A. Sharath Kamal, who skipped the WTT Contender in Muscat to prepare himself for the WTT Singapore Smash, along with G. Sathiyan are directly into the main draw.
They get down to business with Sharath taking on Anton Kallber of Sweden and Sathiyan meeting Peng Yew En Koen of Singapore in their first-round outings on Saturday.
Manika Batra, the second Indian with a direct entry in the women’s singles will clash with Mo Zang of Canada in the first round, also on Saturday.
The organizers have accommodated both Indian pairs—Sharath and Sathiyan and Manika and Archana—who will be seen in action in the men’s and women’s doubles. In the mixed doubles, Manika and Sathiyan will combine against Victor Ishiy and Bruna Takahasi from Brazil.