15 Mar 2021

The race for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games continues to hot up in Doha, Qatar with Russia’s Kirill Skachkov contributing one of the upsets of the World Singles Qualification Tournament so far, claiming a stunning 4-0 victory over Austrian no.3 seed Robert Gardos (11-7, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8) on Monday 15th March.

by Simon Daish

Facing a vastly experienced opponent seeded 10 positions higher, Skachkov would have known heading into the morning that he would need to be at his very best to take the challenge to Gardos in their men’s singles quarter-final knockout tie. Holding the upper hand from game one, Skachkov cut a commanding figure throughout and was rarely troubled by his Austrian counterpart.

The defeat for Gardos arrived not long after the departure of another Austrian hopeful as Daniel Habesohn fell at the same hurdle. Seeded eighth, Habesohn fought bravely to recover a perilous position, taking Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu right down to the wire. But Ionescu, seeded 16th, held his nerve to progress (11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 5-11, 11-9).

Two players in the spotlight following their opening day exploits, Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko and Jann Mari Nayre of the Philippines returned to the table, although this time to contrasting fortunes.

Russian teenager Sidorenko, no.45 seed, negotiated a gruelling six-game affair against the no.14 seed from Great Britain, Paul Drinkhall (14-12, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 13-15, 13-11). Meanwhile, Nayre, who was responsible for the elimination of no.20 seed Lubomir Pistej on day one, tasted defeat at the hands of Italian no.31 seed Niagol Stoyanov (11-5, 11-4, 11-4, 8-11, 13-11).

I am just really happy that I could keep up with the pressure until the end. You could see, almost every game was 10-10. Then I was leading 3:1 and had two match points that I couldn’t convert, so after that, it was really difficult psychologically. But I am really happy that I could just keep this up, especially against Paul who has so much experience, so I am very happy with my win and I will just try to show my best in the next round.” Vladimir Sidorenko

Over in the women’s singles draw, Dutch top seed Britt Eerland survived a major scare in her knockout semi-final meeting with Chile’s Paulina Vega, requiring the full seven-game distance to edge past the no.14 seed (11-8, 5-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6).

Spain’s Galia Dvorak, seeded 16th, awaits Eerland in the knockout 1 final after successfully coming through her encounter with no.48 seed Prithika Pavade. However, Dvorak was made to work hard by the French teenager, who kept fighting until the last (3-11, 12-10, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9).

The standout result, however, came courtesy of another Spanish player as no.13 seed Maria Xiao outclassed Russian no.8 seed Yana Noskova across six enthralling games (7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 14-12). Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, who needed just five games to see off India’s Manika Batra (11-9, 11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9), will stand opposite Xiao in the knockout 4 final.

Draw & Results

Where to watch

General News Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Robert Gardos Britt Eerland Vladimir Sidorenko Ovidiu Ionescu Galia Dvorak Kirill Skachkov

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