When the second leg of the 2017 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour gets underway at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex from Tuesday, the focus will be on India’s top-ranked player Achanta Sharath Kamal. The Indian is seeded 11th and has got direct entry into the main draw.
But in the draw-of-32, Soumyajit Ghosh, another top-ranked national player, will start his campaign as a qualifier. He faces compatriot Jeet Chandra in the opening round. Olympian Manika Batra and former national champion Ankita Das have also got entry into the main round.
Das, who made a first-round exit in the opening leg of the World Tour at Hungary in January, hopes to take advantage of being in the top-16. “It’s a good opportunity to collect vital ranking points,” she said.
The competitors have been divided into 10 groups with the winner of each group moving into the knockout stage, while the second--place finishers will have to win another round before making it to round of 16.
More than 30 Indian players, including 18 in men’s section, will compete in the week-long competition that carries a prize money of $120,000.
Among the foreign stars, the main attraction will be Japanese teen sensation Harimoto Tomokaza, who is ranked 64th in the world. At 14, he was the youngest world champion in 2016.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany, Vladimir Samsonav from Belarus and Englishman Paul Drinkhall are the other big names to have confirmed participation.
The third leg is scheduled from February 23-26 at Qatar. The World Tour is spread across 12 nations with the last stop being Sweden (Nov 16 to 19).