Manika Batra, Harmeet Desai off to winning starts in WTT Contender series

Indian paddlers Manika Batra and Harmeet Desai made an impressive return to the international circuit by registering straight-game victories in their respective qualifying round-2 matches at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender series on Monday.

Batra, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, registered a 12-10, 14-12, 11-8 victory over Spain’s Sofia-Xuan Zhang in women’s singles, while world no. 73 Desai notched up an easy 11-5, 12-10, 11-6 win over compatriot Anthony Amalraj.

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However, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Mudit Dani and Diya Chitale suffered defeats in their respective singles qualifying round matches.

Two-time national champion Mukherjee failed to get the better of Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko 5-11, 3-11, 12-10, 9-11 while Dani, ranked 200, went down 8-11, 6-11, 11-8, 6-11 against world no. 85 Olah Benedek of Finland.

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Chitale started well against Romania’s Irina Ciobanu with a game’s lead but couldn’t capitalise on the momentum and lost the match 11-8, 9-11, 3-11, 8-11 against the world no. 98.

Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran have received direct entries into the men’s singles main draw. Ten other Indians are playing in the qualifiers at the event.

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