Amalraj, Sutirtha salvage the day for India at Qatar Open

Sutirtha Mukherjee also rose to her career-best ranking in the women’s singles after her dominating win.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Indian table tennis got off to a mixed start at the Qatar Open on Tuesday as Anthony Amalraj and Sutirtha Mukherjee were the only ones to emerge victorious on the opening day.

Anthony Amalraj was the only player among India’s male contingent to win his first-round preliminary fixture as he beat local boy, Fahed Almughanne 11-5, 11-3, 11-5, 11-7.

It was a breeze for the experienced Indian table tennis player as he brought out his trademark quick attacking game to the fore, which proved to be no match for the Qatari, who folded in just over 17 minutes.

The comfortable win means that Anthony Amalraj will now play Russian Kirill Skachkov in the second preliminary round on Wednesday.

Hypnotherapy helped Anthony Amalraj get over the fear of knockouts  

The other big name in the ring, Harmeet Desai suffered a five-game loss in the first qualifying round, as he fell to Chinese paddler An Yan 6-11, 12-10, 11-13, 5-11, 9-11.

The Indian paddler was not at his best and though he fought very hard in the second and third games, could not sustain that in the final two in a not-so-ideal beginning.

Meanwhile, three of the other Indian paddlers in the fray, Mudit Dani, Jeet Chandra and Snehit Suravajjula lost in straight games to Anders Lind, Benedikt Duda and Haidong Xu respectively in the first preliminary round.

Sushmit Sriram did raise hopes in the final Indian table tennis fixture of the day when he won the first game against Alvaro Robles but eventually fell 11-7, 5-11, 7-11, 5-11, 5-11 to end his singles campaign at the ITTF World Tour Platinum event.

Sutirtha Mukherjee’s double delight

It was a happy day in the office for Sutirtha Mukherjee as she celebrated her rise to a career-best 109 in the ITTF women’s singles rankings with a dominating 11-4, 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 win over home favourite Maha Ali in the first preliminary round at the Qatar Open.

She will next be up against the formidable Miyu Kato of Japan on Wednesday.

Sutirtha Mukherjee (right) was ranked a career-best 109 in the latest ITTF rankings

There was further good news for Indian table tennis fans as the mixed doubles duo of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra rose to world no. 16 while the pair of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who recently won the silver medal at the Hungarian Open, were ranked 17 in the men’s doubles.

What next for Indian table tennis at Qatar Open

The top-ranked Indian paddler, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will play the men’s singles’ second preliminary round on Wednesday as will Anthony Amalraj.

The aforementioned duo will also team up in the men’s doubles’ first qualifying round as will Harmeet Desai and Sushmit Sriram.

There will be a lot of Indian representation among the women on Wednesday as Sutirtha Mukherjee, Madhurika Patkar, Krittwika Roy, and Sreeja Akula will be seen in action at the Qatar Open women’s singles.

Furthermore, Madhurika Patkar and Sreeja Akula will also play the women’s doubles while Sutirtha Mukherjee pairs up with Harmeet Desai to play the first qualifying round of the mixed doubles. 

Where to watch the Qatar Open

The Qatar Open, an ITTF World Tour Platinum tournament, can be streamed live on the official ITTF website, ittf.com.