Luxembourg's Sarah De Nutte earned one of the qualifying places for the main draw today at the first WTT Grand Smash event in Singapore ©WTT

Qualifying for the main draw of the first-ever World Table Tennis (WTT) Grand Smash was completed at the OCBC Arena in Singapore today ahead of the round-of-64 matches starting on Friday (March 11).

Luxembourg’s Sarah De Nutte stared an exit in the face at 2-7 down in the deciding fifth game of her third qualifying round match against Turkey's Sibel Altinkaya before recovering to reach the women's singles main draw of 64 with an 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 5-11, 11-9 win.

India’s Ayhikia Mukherjee claimed the last of the eight places in the women’s singles with a 12-10, 5-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 win over Serbia’s Sabina Surjan.

But Mukherjee’s compatriot Manav Vikash Thakkar fell at the last hurdle as he lost his men’s singles third qualifying round match to Finland’s Benedek Olah, 11-8, 8-11, 7-11, 14-12, 11-8.

 Belgium's Cedric Nuytinck also missed out as he was beaten 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 by South Korea’s Lim Jonghoon.

The brave effort of Iran’s Nima Alamian to qualify was quashed as he was beaten 11-9, 11-13, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 by Germany’s Ricardo Walther.

China’s Kuai Man earned qualification in the women’s singles with an 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 win over Hong Kong’s Zhu Chengzhu.

One of the closest matches of the day took place between Sweden’s Christina Kallberg and Adina Diaconu of Romania, the former player missing three match points before prevailing 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 12-10.

China’s 19-year-old Xiang Peng earned an 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 win over Slovakia’s Ľubomír Pištej – who is exactly twice his age. 

The new "Singapore Smash" event - which will offer as many ranking points as the Olympic Games and World Championships - will see the world’s best players competing, with the men’s and women’s singles finals scheduled to be held on March 20.

A total of $2 million (£1.5 million/€1.75 million) is set to be up for grabs, making it the largest prize pool for an officially sanctioned table tennis tournament, with singles champions in line to earn $100,000 (£74,000/€88,000) each.

Grand Smash competitions form the top tier of WTT's pyramid system and have been likened to Grand Slams in tennis.

They had been due to launch in 2021, before being pushed back to this year.

There have been plans to stage four Grand Smash events each year, but the Singapore Smash is the only one scheduled to be held in 2022.

Up to 2,000 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) world ranking points are on offer for Grand Smash winners.

The International Table Tennis Federation chief executive Steve Dainton previously described the Grand Smash tournaments as the organisation’s "marquee events", claiming they would "unlock the potential of table tennis" and help grow the sport.