Semi-finalist at the 2019 Commonwealth Championships in Cuttack, India’s Sreeja Akula was the player to attract the attention on Wednesday 18th August at the 2021 WTT Contender Budapest Open.
Required to qualify; after accounting for Sweden’s Linda Bergström, the no.11 seed (11-8, 6-11, 14-12, 2-11, 11-7), she caused an even bigger upset by overcoming Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-6, 13-11).
A place in the quarter-finals reserved, for India a place in the semi-finals is also guaranteed; in the round of the last eight, Sreeja Akula meets Manika Batra, the no.8 seed.
Hard fought contests, the reigning Commonwealth Games champion, accounted for Germany’s Sabine Winter (8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 13-15, 11-5), prior to ousting Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin (12-10, 11-13, 11-5, 4-11, 11-8).
Women’s singles success for Manika Batra, it was the same in the mixed doubles. Partnering colleague Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the duo beat colleagues Manav Vikash Thakkar and Archana Girish Kamath (11-3, 11-6, 14-12), before ousting Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova (11-4, 3-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9).
At the semi-final stage they oppose Aleksandr Khanin and Daria Trigolos of Belarus.
Progress to the penultimate round, it was the same for Manav Vikash Thakkar and Harmeet Desai in the men’s doubles. After overcoming colleagues, Manush Utpalbhai Shah and Jeet Chandra, they secured their last four place courtesy of success in opposition to Hungary’s Erik Huzsvar and David Szantosi (11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8).
In the penultimate round Russia’s Kirill Skachkov and Vladimir Sidorenko await.
Noteworthy success for India but there were disappointments.
Manav Vikash Thakkar, after accounting for Pavel Platonov of Belarus (12-10, 11-9, 11-6) was beaten by Kirill Skachkov (10-12, 13-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9).
Similarly, after beating Hungary’s Csaba Andras (6-11, 7-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-4), Harmeet Desai experienced defeat at the hands of Germany’s Qiu Dang (5-11, 13-11, 11-4, 11-6).
Second round exits for Manav Vikash Thakkar and Harmeet Desai; it was the same for Sathiyan Gnanasekaran. Following success in opposition to Frenchman Can Akkuzu (14-12, 11-5, 7-11, 11-4), he was beaten by Italy’s Niagol Stoyanov (10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 19-17).
Meanwhile, in the women’s singles event, Archana Girish Kamath recorded a surprise opening round win against Russia’s Yana Noskova, the no.5 seed (11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 5-11, 11-9), prior to experiencing defeat when facing Mariia Tailakova, also from Russia (11-4, 11-6, 11-6).
Farewell in the second round for Archana Girish Kamath, it was one round earlier for Reeth Tennison; she was beaten by Hungary’s Szandra Pergel, the no.10 seed (10-12, 6-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7).
Likewise in the women’s doubles there was an early exit for Sreeja Akula and Selena Selvakumar; they were beaten in the opening round by Sweden’s Christina Källberg and Linda Bergström (11-8, 10-12, 11-5, 11-8).
Play concludes in Budapest on Friday 20th August.
Editor: Ian Marshall