The Tbilisi Grand Slam is a highlight of the IJF calendar; 531 competitors from 83 nations confirm that. Each day of the event offers excitement and potential drama. In day one, the lightweights will be ready to throw in the most dynamic ways.

Fifth seed, Doston Ruziev (UZB) is certainly to look out for. In Tashkent he won gold, every contest won with a positive score. He worked equally confidently in standing positions as he did on the ground but 4 out of his 5 contests were won on the ground, 3 by osae-komi-waza and one by shime-waza.

In Georgia no-one will want to be on the ground with him, especially home favourite and number one seed Giorgi Sardalashvili, as he succumbed to a yoko-shiho-gatame in the final of Tashkent and in Tbilisi they are likely to meet in the semi-final.

The Tashkent final, 2024.

Ruziev’s style is that of a well drilled workaholic, moving through the stages of each technique methodically and with great force. His first fight in Uzbekistan was finished with sode-guruma-jime, applied during his 3rd attempt to complete the Fallon roll, a 3rd attempt which followed the second and first without break, eating up a total of one minute and 20 seconds of continuous ne-waza. Yadav (IND) did well to defend it for so long but eventually ran out of steam. See the video of that exchange here:

Moving category, we can expect a clean domination at -52 kg as Distria Krasniqi, Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion at -48 kg, leads the ranking as world number 2, 7 places clear of the next highest ranked athlete. No-one in the group has a record which comes close to hers and the chances of her losing are slim. Yes, it’s judo and anything can happen, but something big would have to go wrong for Krasniqi not to win. Watching her throw with her trademark directness will be a lesson for all.

Krasniqi (KOS) dominated in Paris, February 2024.

Also on day one will be Georgia’s best ever judoka from the women’s categories. Eteri Liparteliani always feels the pressure of being the first, holding the permission for Georgian women to excel. She has taken on the responsibility to inspire and she believes in her mission. She will not have an easy day but will give it all she has, no doubt.

Eteri’s quarter-final is likely to be against Milica Perisic, one place above her on the WRL at number 8. For the Serbian though, it won’t be a welcome match as she has lost in all but their first meeting, back in 2018, 4 losses in total, the last being only weeks ago in Baku. Luparteliani has more pressure, more at stake, but if she can hold her nerve, a place in the semi-final against Christa Deguchi looks likely.

Eteri Liparteliani (GEO) beat Perisic (SRB) for bronze in Baku.

A 9 a.m. kick-off in Tbilisi can be accessed via Tune in online and don’t miss a single minute of the Tbilisi Grand Slam 2024.

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