| France’s Jean-Philippe Gatien in action against Russia’s Alexei Liventsov in the world table tennis meet in Paris on Wednesday. Gatien won 11-4, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7. (AFP)
New Delhi: Four Indian paddlers, including the consistent Chetan Baboor, made the main draw of the world table tennis championship in France Tuesday.
Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner suffered a first-round defeat against a lowly-rated Greek opponent on Wednesday. Waldner, who was out of action for eight months due to an ankle injury, blamed lack of practice for his 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 8-11 loss to qualifier Konstantinos Papageorgiou — rated 372nd in the world.
World No.1 Timo Boll also suffered a shock 3-11, 7-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-9, 12-10 second round defeat to little known Chinese teenager Qui Yike.
Baboor, who is in good touch, gave no chance to Aruba’s Ruddy Raga thrashing him in straight games — 11-9, 11-9, 11-1, 11-7 — to win both his group matches.
According to information received here, young prodigy Achanta Sharath Kamal joined Baboor in the round of 128 making short work of Arturas Orlovas of Lithuania 11-4, 11-4, 13-11, 12-10 to maintain a clean slate.
In the women’s section, Mouma Das and veteran Mantu Ghosh made it to the main draw in contrasting style.
Mouma triumphed against Manzura Inoyatova 12-10, 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9 to advance to the next stage while Mantu came back from a two-game deficit against Elmira Aliyeva of Kazakstan to win 8-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5.
In other matches, Pradeepa Thiruuengadam won her last group encounter against Peri Campbell of Austria 11-9, 13-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10 — but it was not enough for her to cross the qualification hurdle.
Baboor will now face Toshio Tasaki of Japan while Kamal will slog it out with Chistophe Legout of France for a place in the second round.
Mouma plays Georgina Pota of Hungary while Mantu will take on Yaolin Jing.
In the women’s doubles, Mouma and Mantu defeated Soch Khim and Soo Jin Chiu of Malaysia 12-10, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 11-9 to make the main draw.
The duo will now take on the Singapore pair of Xueling Zhang and Paey Fern Tan.
Controversy marred the second day as a Yemen and a Saudi Arabian player refused to play an Israeli paddler Tuesday.
Hani Al-Hammadi of Yemen and Saudi Nabeel Al-Maghahwi refused to play their scheduled men’s singles qualifiers against Gay Elensky of Israel, leading to a strong protest from the head of the Israeli delegation.
The championship disciplinary committee has summoned Al-Hammadi and Al-Maghahwi to explain their version of the event before taking a final decision.
Al-Hammadi started warming up for his first group match but walked away on seeing Elenksy on the other side of the table.
Elensky was then handed his second win without raising a bat when Al-Maghahwi also refused to play.
Al-Hammadi and Al-Maghahwi, however, played against each other in their scheduled group match. But none of them were available for comment.
Elensky, who has lived in France for five years, was clearly upset at the turn of events. “I wasn’t surprised at what happened, but even so I can’t help feeling something.”
Yoel Shoham, the Israeli team boss said: “This is a terrible situation. Not to show up for a match is very bad for the sport and sportsmanship. It brings an ugly face to the championship — and I hope the organisers don’t brush it under the carpet.”
Elensky later lost a qualifier play-off to Japan’s Shu Arai in straight sets.