by Simon Daish
Considered the overwhelming favourite not just to reach the final but to win the region’s sole ticket to Tokyo, Gerassimenko came up second best in his penultimate round meeting with Zokhid Kenjaev, losing out to the no.3 seed from Uzbekistan by a 4-3 score-line (11-7, 12-14, 10-12, 11-6, 12-14, 11-9, 11-8).
A seismic shock, Kenjaev is now just one win away from the ultimate prize on offer with only Iran’s Nima Alamian standing before him. Fourth seed Alamian secured his spot in the final with victory over fellow countryman and the player seeded two positions higher Noshad Alamiyan (11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 13-11, 13-11).
The men’s singles South East Asia final will be fought out between two Singaporean representatives after top seed Pang Yew En Koen and third seed Clarence Chew breezed through their respective semi-final encounters.
Surviving a challenging start to the evening with 32 points required to decide game one, Pang was rarely troubled from that moment on and was most deserving of his win over Thai opponent Padasak Tanviriyavechakul (17-15, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7). Meanwhile, Chew needed just the five games to see off Indonesia’s Rafanael Nikola Niman (11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-4).
Closing out the day’s programme was semi-final action from the women’s singles event in the Central Asia region with both fixtures providing their fair share of talking points.
Top seed Anastassiya Lavrova of Kazakhstan was pushed all the way by Iranian counterpart Neda Shahsavari, recovering from a seemingly perilous 1-3 deficit to battle past the no.3 seeded entry 4-3 (11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-4, 12-10).
Making headlines earlier in the day, no.6 seed Markhabo Magdieva entered the spotlight again as she emerged victorious over fellow Uzbek competitor Rimma Gufranova, seeded fourth (11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10).
Four fixtures remain at the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament with play resuming from 10.00 (local time) on Saturday.