by Simon Daish
Competing in the sole men’s singles group of the South Asia region, Achanta and Gnanasekaran, joined by Pakistan’s Muhammad Rameez, are fighting for the honour of representing the territory in Tokyo with the group winner progressing. Recovering from a 2-3 deficit, Gnanasekaran showed great composure to form the perfect response and is now just one win from qualification.
The task in the four remaining men’s singles groups isn’t quite as simple with knock-out action to come for the successful group qualifiers.
Central Asia’s top seeded player Kirill Gerassimenko is off to a flying start with the Kazakh competitor dropping just 16 points across four games to Uzbekistan’s Elmurod Kholikov (11-3, 11-5, 11-4, 11-4). Meanwhile, Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan and Zokhid Kenjaev of Uzbekistan, seeded second and third respectively, lead the charge in Group 2 after accounting for Kazakhstan’s Aidos Kenzhigulov (11-7, 11-7, 11-6, 12-10) and Kyrgyzstan’s Azamat Ergeshov (17-15, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-4).
Singapore’s Pang Yew En Koen negotiated a difficult meeting with Philippines’ Jann Mari Nayre (11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7) to gain the lead South East Asia Group 1, while fellow Singaporean Clarence Chew and Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul lead the way in Group 2.
In the women’s singles draw, Thailand’s Orawan Paranang sits atop South East Asia Group 1 following her straight games success against Indonesia’s Siti Aminah (11-5, 11-3, 11-9, 11-5). Keen to keep pace but Jannah Romero was pushed close in her opening fixture at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena, requiring all seven games to beat Rose Jean Fadol 4-3 (11-5, 2-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9) in an all-Philippines affair.
There are two groups in the race to represent Central Asia with players local to Kazakhstan holding pole position in both. Anastassiya Lavrova survived a stern test early on to navigate her encounter with Iran’s Shima Safaei (11-5, 11-13, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9), and there were dramatic scenes in Group 2 with Zauresh Akasheva squeezing past Uzbekistan’s Markhabo Magdieva in a dramatic thriller (11-9, 5-11, 12-10, 7-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6).
The second set of group stage fixtures will be contested later in the day with singles action resuming from 14.30 (local time).