by Olalekan Okusan
The WTT Youth nominee was at her best against Romania’s Adina Diaconu. In the first round, she dismissed the former European Junior medalist 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-7).
Drawn against Dina Meshref, six-time African champion, the 17-year-old beat the fifth-seeded Egyptian 3-0 (12-10, 12-10, 11-4) to qualify for her first quarter-final at the WTT event.
“I just played naturally by focusing on the game. It is not my first WTT, but I did not expect to go so far. However, I knew that I can do something and that I have to play quite well. I have played against two tough players. Adina Diaconu is a very dangerous, high-quality player. Dina Meshref is also an amazing player,” said Pavade.
Belarus’ Daria Trigolos, ranked 104th, defeated seventh seed Polina Mikhailova of the Russian Federation to advance to the quarter-final. Despite losing the first game 9-11 to the 46th ranked Russian, Trigolos showed determination against her defensive opponent. Her patience and perseverance paid off with a 3-2 win (9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7).
Russian Federation’s Maria Tailakova initially tested top seed Sofia Polcanova in the first game as the Austrian lost 11-5. Yet Polcanova regained control of the match with a dominant display (11-7, 11-5, 11-8) to progress.
The third seed Xiaoxin Yang of Monaco showed her fighting spirit against Spain’s Maria Xiao. The WTT Contender Budapest champion secured her place in the quarter-final after an entertaining 3-1 (11-8, 11-8, 11-13, 11-7) win. Brazil’s Bruna Takahashi and Portugal’s Jieni Shao’s match was fierce, but the Portuguese progressed after a close 3-2 (7-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8) win.
Croatia’s Filip Zeljko did not drop a set in the second round of the Men’s Singles against Brazil’s Vitor Ishiy. The Croat qualifier climbed the elite ladder after recording a 3-2 (13-11, 11-9, 11-6) win over the South American.
Germany’s Dang Qui ended the French qualifier’s Enzo Angles dream in the second round with a convincing 3-0 (11-5, 11-8, 11-8) victory.
Poland’s Jakub Dyjas continued to take down top-ranked players, defeating France’s Emmanuel Lebesson 3-0 (13-11, 14-12, 12-10) to reach the quarter-finals. Before that, the 26-year-old had defeated seventh seed Ruwen Filus of Germany 3-2 (8-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5) in the first round of the Men’s Singles.
“I am very happy. I did not expect to make it to the quarter-finals in such a great tournament with good players. I was only thinking about how to bag the next points and match. I am happy that I made it to the quarter-final. It was not easy playing against Filus and Lebesson. I had already played against them in the German Bundesliga and European Championships. I knew a little bit about them and what I needed to do to play against them. This is a great tournament with top-level players, and I am very happy that I am here,” said Dyjas.
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran ended Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw’s Tunisian dream in the second round as the Indian claimed an emphatic 3-0 victory (11-6, 11-9, 11-9) to progress to the last eight.
Top seed Patrick Franziska dug deep to beat 19-year-old qualifier Maksim Grebnev. Franziska’s experience controlled the match’s tempo from start to finish winning 3-1 (11-8, 6-11, 11-2, 12-10).
Second seed Quadri Aruna defeated Portugal’s Joao Monteiro 3-0 (12-10, 11-7,11-4). Earlier in the day, the Nigerian beat Sweden’s Jon Persson 3-1 (9-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-4).
In the Men’s Doubles quarter-final, India’s Harmeet Desai and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran trumped Hungary’s Patrik Juhasz and Bence Majoros 3-1 (12-10, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6). Hungarian top seeds Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi defeated the Indians, Manav Vikash Thakkar and Sharath Kamal Achanta 3-1 (11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 13-11).
In the Women’s Doubles quarter-final, Sweden’s Filippa Bergand and Austria’s Karoline Mischek beat Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova and Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova 3-1 (11-6, 9-11, 14-12, 11-5).
In the Mixed Doubles quarter-final, WTT Contender Budapest champion Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran of India edged out France’s Prithika Pavade and Alexandre Cassin in a close contest that ended 3-2 (11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8).
Similarly, Germany’s Dang Qiu and Nina Mittelham beat Tunisia’s Youssef Abid and Maram Zoghlami 3-0 (11-5, 11-3, 11-4).
Day Three Preview
Friday’s mixed doubles semi-final will kick-start the action as India’s Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran take on France’s Emmanuel Lebesson and Jia Nan Yuan. Germany’s Dang Qiu and Nina Mittelham will battle Belarus’ Aleksandr Khanin and Daria Trigolos.
The Singles quarter-final matches will follow, with Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu facing Sweden’s Anton Kallberg and top seed Patrick Franziska will play Croatia’s Filip Zeljko in the Men’s Singles.
Germany’s Dang Qiu faces Indian Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, while Poland’s Jakub Dyjas will clash with Quadri Aruna of Nigeria.
In the Women’s Singles quarter-final, top seed Austrian Sofia Polcanova will take on Belarus’ Daria Trigolos. French teenager Prithika Pavade will face another uphill challenge when she plays third seed Xiaoxin Yang of Monaco.
Second seed Adriana Diaz and Portugal’s Jieni Shao will face each other, while Sweden’s Nina Mittelham will be up against Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova.
In the Women’s Doubles semi-final, Sweden’s Linda Bergstrom and Christina Kallberg will take on Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin and Debora Vivarelli while Switzerland’s Rachel Moret and Belarus’ Daria Trigolos battle Sweden’s Filippa Bergand and Austria’s Karoline Mischek for places in the finals.
In Men’s Doubles semi-final, India’s Harmeet Desai and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will face a Herculean task when they take on number one seeds from Hungary, Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi in the semi-final. France’s Emmanuel Lebesson and Alexandre Cassin will face the Czech duo of Tomas Polansky and Jiri Martinko.
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 event details of WTT Contender Tunis, click here.