by Simon Daish
Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat
Placed at the top of the draw, England’s Liam Pitchford is understandably the man to beat in the title race, and the host nation’s Adam Szudi fancied the challenge. A nerve-racking match from start to finish, Pitchford found himself just one game away from defeat but lives to fight another day following a commendable recovery from the top seed in the face of enormous pressure (9-11, 11-2, 10-12, 11-3, 11-7).
Nigerian star Quadri Aruna also endured a difficult day at the office as the number two seed survived a significant scare. Aruna, 33, relied on his vast experience to steady the ship against 23-year-old Andreas Levenko of Austria, keeping his cool at 1-2 down to successfully turn the match around 3-2 in his favour (9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8).
One of the star performers at WTT Star Contender Doha 2021, Ruwen Filus succumbed to a stunning opening round defeat in Budapest, with the German defender failing to convert a two-game advantage against Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky (4-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7).
Major contenders bid early farewells
The biggest casualty in the Women’s Singles round of 32 was Russia’s Yana Noskova following her defeat to Archana Girish Kamath. Fifth seed Noskova recovered from a slow start, showing great determination to take her Indian counterpart down to the wire, but she left empty-handed as Kamath weathered the late storm to secure a famous victory (11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-9).
Two further seeded players departed in the round of 32. Number seven seed Dora Madarasz was shown the exit after falling short against fellow Hungarian competitor Mercedes Nagyvaradi (9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-4), while Italy’s Debora Vivarelli, seeded directly below Madarasz, also lost out by a 3-1 scoreline in her meeting with Serbian qualifier Sabina Surjan (11-6, 7-11, 13-11, 11-6).
Manika Batra’s name was almost added to the list of shock exits, but the number six seed from India narrowly saw off an impressive effort from Germany’s Sabine Winter (8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 13-15, 11-5). The comeback of the session undoubtedly belonged to the host nation’s Szandra Pergel, who successfully fought back from two games down to beat Batra’s compatriot Reeth Tennison 3-2 (10-12, 6-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7).
Doubles events also see shock departures
The shock results weren’t just limited to the singles events, with notable departures also catching the eye on the doubles front.
Anticipated to play a significant role in the title race, second seeds Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel were the highest-profile pair to fall in the Mixed Doubles after losing out to Nandor Ecseki and Dora Madarasz 3-0 in an all-Hungarian contest (11-5, 11-3, 15-13). Meanwhile, Russia’s Kirill Skachkov and Olga Vorobeva secured an impressive scalp against Niagol Stoyanov and Giorgia Piccolin, beating the Italian combination in a five-game epic (5-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-9).
All four seeded pairs experienced victory in the Men’s Doubles event. However, the same couldn’t be said for the Women’s Doubles as Germany’s Sabine Winter and Chile’s Paulina Vega, seeded third, suffered elimination at the hands of Russia’s Elizabet Abraamian and Mariia Tailakova (11-6, 13-11, 11-6).
Another action-packed day awaits
Wednesday’s programme commences at 10.00 local time as Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova takes on India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra in a thrilling Mixed Doubles quarter-final, with more doubles action featuring throughout the day.
Getting underway from 14.00, both singles events focus on the round of 16. Women’s Singles top seed Yang Xiaoxin of Monaco looks to build on an impressive start as she faces Hungarian comeback star Szandra Pergel from 15.20. Then, from 17.40, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna is hoping to avoid another stressful experience at the table when he meets Frenchman Alexandre Robinot in one of the day’s headline fixtures from the Men’s Singles.