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All eyes on Soumyajit Ghosh as ITTF World Tour India Open qualifiers begin on Tuesday

Soumyajit Ghosh
Soumyajit Ghosh
India’s star paddler and double Olympian Soumyajit Ghosh will lead the country’s campaign in the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open qualifying rounds that get under way here at the Thyagaraj Stadium on Tuesday.
 
The former national champion will be vying along with 16 other Indians to get into the main draw of the $150,000 India Open, the highest prize money table tennis tournament in the country.
 
A number of world class players, including No. 5 Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany and No. 8 Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, will be seen in action in the men’s section; on the distaff side, the Hong Kong duo of World No. 14 Doo Hoi Kem and No. 19 Ching Lee Ho will be the star attractions in the event organised by 11Even Sports with the support of Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI). 
 
Table tennis fans will be eager to get a glimpse of Japan’s 14-year-old prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto who became the youngest world junior champion in 2015. He is the top seed in the under 21 section that begins tomorrow as well.
 
India’s fans will have a lot to cheer for, with India’s number one in men’s and women’s categories- Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra- getting direct entries into the main draw along with former national champions Mouma Das and Ankita Das as well as prodigy Ayhika Mukherjee.
 
Ghosh, the World No. 82, will launch his campaign against compatriot Jeet Chandra; he will take on Ali Alkhadrawi later in the day and will fancy his chances of lasting till the end of the weekend.
 
As many as 36 players will be aspiring for a place in the tournament proper. They have been divided into 10 groups, with the winners of each group sailing ahead. The second-placed finishers will have to play and win one more match each to make it to the knockout stages. The 16th place, the last slot, will go to one lucky loser.
 
Japanese prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto
Japanese prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto
Portugal’s Joao Geraldo, as the current World No. 74, is the top seed in the qualifying rounds. He will be up against the Indian duo of Arjun Ghosh and Manav Vikash. Another Indian hope Sanil Shetty has been drawn in Group 4 and will face-off against countryman Rohit Bhanja and Lubomir Jancarik of Czech Republic in his bid to enter the knock-out stages of tournament. 
 
Anirban Ghosh is another Indian star who will be aiming to qualify for the knock-out stages. He is placed in Group Three but has the arduous task for overcoming third seeded Tianyl Jiang of Hong Kong in his first match. He will then take on Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Al-Abbad in his second match in this round.
 
Harmeet Desai has been drawn alongside fellow countryman Birdie Boro, Takuto Izumo and Tzu-Hsiang Hung of Chinese Taipei in Group Seven, while World No. 84 Quentin Robinot of France will be up against Omer Avi-Tal of Panama and Anthony Amalraj and Utkarsh Gupta of India.
 
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