15 Sep 2021

Places in the main draw, in each of the men’s singles and women’s singles events at the 2021 ITTF Kazakhstan International Open in Karaganda, at stake on the opening day of action, Wednesday 15th September, competition to join the eight seeds, in the knock-out stage proved intense.

At the end of the day eight men and four women concluded their initial matches unbeaten to complete reservations.

by Ian Marshall

In the men’s singles, India’s Jeet Chandra, Siddesh Pande, Snehit Suravajjula and Sudhanshu Grover all progressed, as did Saudi Arabia’s Naif Al-Jadi and the host nation’s Denis Zholudev alongside Uzbekistan’s Elmurod Kholikov and Abdulaziz Anorboev.

However, there were close calls.

Denis Zholudev needed the full seven games to beat Uzbekistan’s Mukhammad Uktamboev (10-12, 11-7, 4-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9); likewise, Naif Al-Jadi required six games to overcome the host nation’s Alan Kurmangaliyev (11-1, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5), a situation that also applied to Sudanshu Grover and Abdulaziz Anorboev.

Both eventually overcame spirited Kazakhstan opposition. Sudanshu Grover beat Iskender Kharki (11-5, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7); Abdulaziz Anorboev prevailed against Vladislav Zakharov (15-13, 8-11, 5-11, 15-13, 11-3, 13-11).

Meanwhile, in the women’s singles, there was notable success for Kazakhstan. Aiya Alimbayeva and Alsu Saparova reserved main draw places, as did Russia’s Daria Shadrina and India’s Prapti Sen.

Alsu Saparova was the member of the quartet to experience the greatest challenge.

After accounting for colleague Zhanerka Koshkumbayeva in six games (11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-13, 11-2), she needed the full seven games to overcome Uzbekistan’s Sugdiyona Madalieva. Somewhat against the odds, she recovered from a three games to nil deficit (2-11, 7-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5).

Arguably, it was the performance of the day; certainly, one for Alsu Saparova to remember.

Play in the first stage of proceedings concludes on Thursday 16th September, the main draw commences on Friday 17th September.

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