by Olalekan Okusan
Tuesday’s afternoon session served off with Women’s Singles’ clashes. Sweden’s Christina Kallberg rallied from a first-game loss of 9-11 to overcome the Indian, Madhurika Patkar, (9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4).
France’s Audrey Zarif continued her excellent run with an (11-9, 11-6, 11-7) win over Germany’s Franziska Schreiner to join the elite qualifiers in the main draw.
India’s Selena Selvakumar worked her way to the main draw of the Women’s Singles after beating Egypt’s Marwa Alhodaby (12-10, 10-12, 10-12, 11-5, 11-2). Despite going down 2-1, Selvakumar kept her cool to win the fourth game, which was enough to shift the match’s momentum in her favour for a comfortable win.
“Being my second WTT event after I made my debut at WTT Contender Budapest, I wanted to really play in the main draw. So, I was determined from the start of the qualifying round. Even when I was down 2-1, I knew that I had to play the ball on the table to win points. I did that, and I was able to win. I am so happy that I am playing in the main draw of WTT in my second appearance,” said Selvakumar.
Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin made real her pre-match rating as she defeated the Swede, Filippa Bergand, (11-9, 12-10, 7-11, 11-9).
Like Piccolin, Romania’s Adina Diaconu was at her very best as she triumphed over Serbia’s Sabina Surjan (8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6).
India’s Diya Parag Chitale tested the German Yuan Wan well, but the experienced European prevailed (11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7).
In a battle between two French players, WTT debutant, Marie Migot, advanced to the main draw with a hard-fought (3-11, 12-10, 11-7, 6-11, 11-4) win over Lucie Gauthier. France’s Leili Mostafavi also worked hard for an (11-8, 3-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-4) victory over India’s Krittwika Roy.
In the Men’s Singles, 21-year-old German Fanbo Meng continued to take down top players with another excellent performance against the experienced Marcelo Aguirre from Paraguay. The 235th ranked Meng downed his 65th ranked opponent in an entertaining tie which ended (12-10, 11-8, 11-9) and in Meng’s favour.
“It is a nice feeling beating top players and making it to the main draw. If someone had told me that I would be playing in the main draw of this competition, I would not have believed it. It is such a nice feeling playing in my second main draw of WTT event after my debut at the WTT Contender Budapest,” said Meng
Despite going down 11-7 in the first game, Russian Federation’s Maksim Grebnev wriggled his way out to gain control of the match against Portugal’s Joao Geraldo. Eventually, Grebnev qualified for the main draw with a (7-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8) conquest.
Belgium’s Martin Allegro edged out France’s Abdel-Kader Salifou (11-1, 11-9, 12-10, 11-6), while the only surviving Indian in the qualifying round, Manav Vikash Thakkar, was shown the exit by Croatia’s Filip Zeljko. The Croat won (7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6).
Alexander Shibaev of the Russian Federation endured a stern test to beat Finland’s Benedek Olah, (11-9, 11-7, 12-10).
France’s Enzo Angles secured his way into the main draw after a hard-fought 3-2 (11-7, 7-11, 11-3, 5-11, 11-4) win over Austria’s Andreas Levenko.
Poland’s Jakub Dyjas picked one of the tickets to the main draw as he maintained his cool to beat Romania’s Hunor Szocs (8-11, 11-3, 9-11, 14-12, 11-7).
In the last match of Day Three of the qualifying round, Croatia’s Frane Kojic stood on the brink of defeat, only to fight back to beat Romania’s Rares Sipos 3-2 (9-11, 12-10, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7).
After three days of exciting qualifying matches, attention now turns to the official kick-off of WTT Contender Tunis 2021, as the main draw contests start on Wednesday October 26.
Day One matches are scheduled to begin with the Men’s and Women’s Doubles.
The afternoon session will commence with the Women’s Singles, as number one seed Austria’s Sofia Polcanova opens her WTT Contender Series against Italian qualifier Giorgia Piccolin. Austria’s Amelie Solja will clash with Russian Federation’s Mariia Tailakova.
Men’s Singles are also billed to take centre stage as number one seed, Patrick Franziska of Germany takes on a familiar opponent in Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia in what promises to be a highly competitive and entertaining encounter.
Brazil’s Vitor Ishiy will take on the Indian, Sharath Achanta.
WTT Contender is the foundation of the WTT Series structure, offering a total prize purse of $75,000 and 400 ITTF World Ranking Points across Men’s and Women’s Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles competitions.
For more details on WTT Contender Tunis, click here.