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WTT Grand Smash Singapore 2022: Ayhika Mukherjee qualifies for main draw

Commonwealth Games gold medallists Anthony Amalraj, Harmeet Desai and Sutirtha Mukherjee lost their respective qualifiers.

Indian table tennis player Ayhika Mukherjee overcame three qualifying rounds to make it to the women’s singles main draw at the WTT Grand Smash Singapore 2022 on Wednesday.

In the last qualifying match, Ayhika Mukherjee overturned a 2-1 deficit to defeat Sabina Surjan of Serbia 3-2 (12-10, 5-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7) at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Earlier, Ayhika Mukherjee blanked former European champion Daniela Dodean of Romania and Tokyo Olympian Debora Vivarelli of Italy.

From the eight Indian players – three men and five women – fighting for a spot in the main draw, Ayhika Mukherjee was the only one to qualify.

Ayhika Mukherjee will now join world No. 49 Manika Batra in the women’s singles starting on Friday.

Earlier, Manav Thakkar, Commonwealth Games gold medallists Sutirtha MukherjeeHarmeet Desai and Anthony Amalraj lost in the respective preliminary rounds to crash out from the first Grand Smash of the year.

Sutirtha Mukherjee lost 3-1 to Mateja Jeger of Croatia after winning the second round against fellow Indian Sreeja Akula while Harmeet Desai was blanked 3-0 by Japan’s Shunsuke Togami earlier in the day.

Anthony Amalraj, meanwhile, was eliminated in the first preliminary round after losing 3-1 to Liao Cheng-ting of Chinese Taipei. Archana Kamath and Madhurika Patkar, in the women’s singles, were the other Indians who could not make it to the last qualifying round.

Archana Kamath will now compete in the women’s doubles with Manika Batra.

Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who feature in main draws of respective singles and doubles, will also team up in the mixed doubles.

In the men’s singles, world No. 33 Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and world No. 34 Sharath Kamal are the two Indian direct entrants. The two top-ranked Indian table tennis players will also team up in the men’s doubles.

The Grand Smashes, starting from this year, will now be the highest-tier event in the annual calendar. A total of four Grand Smashes will be held every year in different cities.

The Grand Smash Singapore 2022 also features world No. 1 Fan Zhendong and Sun Yingsha, and Olympic champions Ma Long and Chen Meng.

By Ali Asgar Nalwala

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