Anthony Amalraj kept Indian table tennis hopes alive at the Qatar Open on Wednesday as he won two singles and a doubles match to advance into the main draws in both events.
The 34-year-old endured a tough fixture against Russian Kirill Skachkov in the second preliminary round but eventually emerged an 11-6, 12-14, 11-5, 11-7, 11-13, 11-7 victor.
He did not have time to rest though as he immediately hopped on to the doubles table to team up with Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and the Indian table tennis duo dismantled Belarusians Aliaksandr Khanin and Pavel Platonov with a straight games victory to sail into the main draw.
However, it was a bittersweet day for Sathiyan Gnanasekaran as though he made it to the main draw of the men’s doubles, he could not do so in the singles.
In his first match of the day, the top-ranked Indian table tennis player on the ITTF circuit, had no problems in dispatching Japanese Shunsuke Togami 11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8.
He enjoyed another victory in the doubles after that but unlike Anthony Amalraj, could not quite make it a third win of the day as he fell in five games to world no. 18 Spaniard Alvaro Robles in the final preliminary round of the singles.
Women’s campaign comes to premature end
The Indian women’s contingent could not progress to the main draws of the Qatar Open in either the singles or the doubles as all four of them bowed out after contrasting losses.
Sutirtha Mukherjee, who hardly broke a sweat on Tuesday, fought hard in the first two games but was eventually outclassed 12-14, 11-5, 6-11, 2-11, 4-11 by Japanese Miyu Kato in the second preliminary rounds.
A similar score-line awaited Krittwika Roy against another Japanese paddler in Sakura Mori as she fell 2-11, 4-11, 11-8, 4-11, 2-11. Sreeja Akula ended another Indian hope hardly an hour later, losing in straight games to Mengyu Yu of Singapore.
Indian table tennis’ final singles hope among the women, Madhurika Patkar was handed a walkover in the second preliminary round but she could not capitalise as she then fell 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 2-11, 11-9, 3-11 to Romanian Elizabeta Samara.
There was more heartbreak for Madhurika Patkar as she teamed up with Sreeja Akula in the doubles and the duo pushed the Dane-Belgian pair of Stefanie Christensen and Nathalie Marchetti to the limit before folding 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 7-11.
Harmeet Desai ousted early
It was another day of disappointment for Harmeet Desai as he exited both the men’s doubles and the mixed doubles events after his singles loss on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old paired up with Sushmit Sriram, who had also lost his singles match, but they could not close out the tie despite leading by a game against Aleksandar Karakasevic of Serbia and Lubomir Pistej of Slovakia.
The Indian table tennis duo was largely on top in the first three games, winning two of them and only conceding the second after stretching it to 16 points. However, they ran out of steam thereafter with the scoreboard eventually 11-9, 14-16, 11-8, 5-11, 6-11 against them.
The mixed doubles tie was not as gripping though as the Indian table tennis team of Harmeet Desai and Sutirtha Mukherjee hardly put up a fight and lost in straight games to Hungarians Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel.
What next for Indian table tennis at Qatar Open
With the Indian table tennis contingent trimmed down considerably, only Anthony Amalraj and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will be seen in action, the former in his singles round of 32 match and then the pre-quarters of the men’s doubles along with his younger colleague at the Qatar Open.
Where to watch the Qatar Open
The Qatar Open, an ITTF World Tour Platinum event, can be streamed live on the official ITTF website, ittf.com.