Former European champion Elizabeta Samara of Romania powered into the quarterfinals of the WTT Contender Muscat 2022 after edging Chinese Taipei’s Huang Yi-Hua 3-2 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Thursday.
Seventh seed Samara prevailed 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9 in a thrilling contest.
World No. 88 South Korea’s Choi Hyojoo and Ukraine’s World No 38 Margaryta Pesotska also advanced into the quarterfinals with 3-1 victories against their opponents.
Hyojoo beat China’s Xu Yi 11-5, 13-11, 8-11, 11-2 while Pesotska outsmarted India’s World No 44 Manika Batra 11-5, 11-3, 4-11, 11-1.
In the men’s section, World No 35 Kanak Jha of USA entered the last eight with a 3-1 win over Ricardo Walther of Germany (World No 74) 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8.
World No 8 Darko Jorgic of Slovenia moved past Sheng Yan of China 3-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-4) in dominating fashion to book the last-eight spot.
Jorgic will take on World No 28 Woojin Jang of South Korea in the quarterfinal. Jang beat Noshad Alamiyan of Iran 3-1 (2-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5) in the last 16 clash.
In the men’s doubles, India’s Harmeet Desai and Manav Vikash Thakkar enter the semifinals with a 3-1 victory over Chuang Chih-Yuan and Peng Wang-Wei of Chinese Taipei.
The Indian pair will meet Chinese pair of Linwei Sai and Guankai Niu in the semifinal. The Chinese pair defeated Woojin Jang and Jonghoon Lim of South Korea 3-1.
The women’s doubles first semifinal will be a Chinese affair with Tianyi Qian and Chen Xingtong meeting compatriots Xu Yi and Fan Shuhan.
In the second semifinal, Lily Zhang (USA) and Barbora Balazova (Slovenia) take on South Korean pair of Choi Hyojoo and Lee Zion Alazova.
EUROPEAN CHAMPION OUT
On Wednesday, WTT Contender Muscat 2022 opened in spectacular fashion with recently crowned European champion Sofia Polcanova the biggest name to fall on the first day of main draw action.
Polcanova was considered a hot favourite to strike women’s singles success in Muscat, but was left bitterly disappointed.
Claiming an early lead against Korea Republic’s Choi Hyojoo with a narrow win in the opening game, Polcanova saw her fortunes change quickly from that moment on as Choi hit back by taking three games on the bounce to earn her first senior victory over the Austrian (11-13, 11-8, 13-11, 11-8).
“It wasn’t good for me today. I lost 3-1 against a very good Korean player who I played two times before and our record was even at 1:1. I knew it would be a difficult match if I didn’t concentrate and give 100 per cent and unfortunately, I didn’t focus enough throughout the match,” Sofia Polcanova said.
The women’s singles draw lost its 2nd-seeded competitor later in the day as China’s Qian Tianyi put three games past Monaco’s Xiaoxin Yang without reply (11-8, 11-6, 11-2). Fifth seed Shin Yubin didn’t fare much better in her opening round contest, with India’s Manika Batra proving too strong for the 18-year-old from Korea Republic on this occasion (2-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-6).
Elizabeta Samara came close to experiencing a shock opening day defeat, requiring all five games to fend off World No 259 Prapti Sen (11-5, 5-11, 13-15, 13-11, 11-7), while Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska saved two match points to come through her tie with China’s Zang Xiaotong unscathed (13-11, 14-12, 7-11, 9-11, 13-11).
“I enjoyed this match because we both played very well. Sometimes I made mistakes, as did she, but generally we had good rallies, so I'm happy that I won. I tried my best to keep my focus on how to play to fight and did everything I could to win this match,” Pesotska said.
In men’s section, Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic opened his account with a commanding 3-0 victory over French teenager Felix Lebrun (11-6, 11-8, 11-6).
Second seed Patrick Franziska was the highest-seeded player to experience defeat in the round of 32, failing to build on his impressive semifinal finish achieved at the WTT Champions event in Budapest with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Chinese qualifier Liang Yanning (11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-13, 12-10).
Fourth and sixth seeds Korea Republic’s Lim Jonghoon and France’s Simon Gauzy bid their farewells at the round of 32 hurdle, losing out to Germany’s Ricardo Walther (9-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8) and Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia (11-8, 12-14, 11-9, 3-11, 11-5) respectively.
Sultan Qaboos Sport Complex also played host to two breathtaking comebacks on Wednesday evening. First Sweden’s Jon Persson lit up the arena with his incredible recovery from two games down to beat German counterpart Fanbo Meng 3-2 (4-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9) before another German player Benedikt Duda decided to join the party with his astonishing heroics against former World No 5 Koki Niwa (8-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3).