WTT Contender Lagos: Sreeja Akula scripts history with singles title

 

Indian table tennis player Sreeja Akula won the women’s singles and doubles titles at the WTT Contender Lagos 2024 in Sir Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Sports Hall in Nigeria on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Sreeja Akula, part of the Indian table tennis team for the Paris 2024 Olympics, defeated the 16-year-old Yijie Ding of the People’s Republic of China 4-1 (10-12,11-9,11-6,11-8,11-6) in the final.

With the victory on Sunday, Akula became the first Indian table tennis player to win a WTT Contender singles title.

Akula accounted for Tokyo Olympian Sutirtha Mukherjee of India in the semi-finals. The world No. 43 Indian paddler defeated Mukherjee, ranked 125th, 3-2 (11-8, 13-15, 11-9, 9-11,12-10).

Sutirtha Mukherjee had defeated defending champion and world No. 8 Shin Yubin of the Republic of Korea 3-2 (11-9, 3-11, 0-11, 11-9, 11-6) in the quarter-finals.

Yijie Ding had defeated Ayhika Mukherjee 3-2 (11-7, 7-11, 11-2, 11-13, 11-4) in the other semi-final.

India’s top-ranked women’s table tennis player Manika Batra, world No. 28, suffered an upset in the round of 16 against 331st-ranked Farida Badawy of Egypt and lost 3-2 (11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8).

Sreeja Akula, along with Archana Kamath, also clinched the women’s doubles title by defeating compatriots Yashaswini Ghorpade and Diya Chitale 3-2 (11-9, 11-6, 12-10).

In the men’s doubles final, national champion Harmeet Desai, along with Manav Thakkar, defeated the Nigerian pair of Olajide Omotayo and Azeez Solanke by a 3-0 (11-8, 11-9, 11-8) scoreline. Desai and Thakkar became the first Indian men’s pair to win a title at a Contender meet.

All four title-winning Indian table tennis players – Sreeja Akula, Archana Kamath, Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar – are in the Indian team for the Paris Olympics.

Commonwealth Games champion Sharath Kamal, who is set to appear at the Olympic Games for the fifth time in Paris next month, was knocked in the quarter-finals by 19-year-old French paddler Thibault Poret 3-2 (11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6).

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