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ITTF Singles World Cup Macao: Manika and Sreeja handed tough draws

Placed in Group 2 and Group 4, Manika and Sreeja will face a daunting task in the first stage as they have Chinese players Manyu and Cheng to encounter.

ITTF Singles World Cup Macao: Manika and Sreeja handed tough draws

Sreeja Akula and Manika Batra are India's top ranked women's singles players. 


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 14 April 2024 11:02 AM GMT

Indian paddlers Manika Batra and Sreeja Akula have been handed tough draws at the ITTF Singles World Cup for men and women, to be held at the Galaxy Arena, Macao, from April 15 to 21. The draws for the event were released on Sunday at a press conference.

Besides the trophies, there is a share of a $1,000,000 prize pool to be won.

World no. 38 Manika, the top-ranked Indian paddler placed in Group 2, will face off against world no. 2 Wang Manyu of China and world no. 45 Adina Diaconu of Romania in the first stage.

Manika, who has recently failed to secure mixed doubles quota place with G Sathiyan for the Paris Olympics at the World Mixed Doubles Qualification, will take on Manyu, who beat the Indian star 3-1 (11-3, 11-8, 13-15, 11-7) at the World Table Tennis Team Championships in February in what was their first meeting.

Manika has not been in great form of late. Last month, at the WTT Champions in Incheon, she made a first-round exit.

The poster girl of Indian women's table tennis for six years, Manika has been struggling to regain her mojo since she created history at the Asian Games in Hangzhou in 2023 becoming the first Indian singles player to reach the quarterfinals.

World no. 4 Sreeja, in contention to displace Manika as India's no.1, will also have her task cut out against defending champion and world no. 4 Chen Meng in Group 4. Her other match in the group will be against world no. 51 Natalia Bajor of Poland.

Sreeja, who has been in great form after winning two titles this year at WTT Feeder Corpus Christi and WTT Feeder Beirut II, will be motivated to play well as a good show in Macao will take her close to India's No. 1 ranking.

There are a total of 16 groups each in men's and women's singles, with an expanded field of 48 players each in two categories taking part in the tournament compared to previous World Cups. Manika and Sreeja are the only two Indians playing in the event, with India having no representation in men's singles.

Given the nature of the draw, it would be difficult for the Indians to overcome the hurdle of the group stage. Only the group champion will advance to the second stage, which will be played in the knockout format.

While Manika has not been in fine form and facing a daunting task against Manyu, who is expected to top the group, Sreeja has the world champion Cheng to battle against.

But both Manika and Sreeja would like to test themselves ahead of the Paris Olympics, where they will be playing in women's singles as well as women's team events.

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