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Manika Batra inches closer to Olympic qualification

Manika Batra was the only Indian paddler in the fray at the World Singles Qualification Tournament for the Tokyo Olympics qualification after the end of opening day on Sunday.

Among the four Indian paddlers taking part in the tournament being played at Doha’s Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena, Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran were the first to get knocked out. Both of them lost their round of 16 encounters to lower-ranked players.

World Number 32 Achanta Sharath Kamal suffered defeat against World Number 102 Niagol Stoyanov of Italy in 6 games 11-9, 6-11, 8-11, 4-11, 11-8, 10-12.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was lackluster against Mihai Bobocica of Italy as he lost in four straight games. World Number 125 Italian defeated World Number 37 Sathiyan 11-7, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5.

In Women’s Singles, Indian challenge was spearheaded by World Number 63 Manika Batra and World Number 95 Sutirtha Mukherjee. Manika Batra made it to the semifinals by winning both of her matches while Sutirtha had to suffer defeat in the quarter-finals.

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist Batra outclassed Bulgaria’s Maria Yovkova (World Number 118) 11-5, 11-7, 11-4, 11-0 in round of 16 tie. 25-year-old India then defeated Uzbekistan’s Rimma Gufranova (World Number 222) 12-10, 11-3, 11-6, 11-4.

Sutirtha Mukherjee started her campaign with an easy win over Lisa Lung 11-3, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10. However, the 25-year-old bowed out after losing to Polina Mikhailova. The World Number 46 from Russia won 10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5.

On Monday, Manika Batra will take on the World No. 44 Yang Xiaoxin of Monaco in her semi-final.

Olympic qualification process at World Singles Qualification Tournament

In the men’s category, 73 paddlers are split into three knockout rounds for Stage 1. The winner of each knockout round will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. While the losing finalist and semi-finalists from each of the three knockouts, will be drawn into another knockout round where the winner will secure the remaining one spot.

For the women’s category, 60 paddlers are split into four knockout rounds for Stage 1. The winner of each knockout round will qualify for Tokyo Olympics. Losing finalist from each of the four knockout rounds will battle out for the remaining one spot.

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