Indian paddler G. Sathiyan has won quite a few laurels at the international level: two international Pro tour titles, first Indian to break into the top-25 in world rankings, a men’s team gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and a men’s team bronze in Asian Games.
However, the men’s singles title at the National championships has eluded him. Sathiyan has lost thrice in the final and has been defeated three times in the semis. In the Senior Nationals, to be held in Panchkula (Haryana) from Feb. 14 to 23, Sathiyan has the best chance to win his first title, according to his coach S. Raman.
Raman, an Olympian and four-time men’s National singles champion, said this is the first time Sathiyan has spent a considerable (3 weeks) amount of time in Chennai to practise and iron out the rustiness in his game. “Earlier, he used to play in a pro tour or a pre-Olympics. This time, he has got a reasonable opportunity to train in the city. The bio-bubble era, where he has to return immediately after playing abroad, has turned out to be advantageous. He has acclimated to the Indian conditions well. We are driving the idea that this year we can have a go at the title given the fact that are good players,” said Raman.
Sathiyan said he will give his best. “Nationals is quite an important tournament and it is definitely on my bucket list. I will try my best. This is a special year as due to COVID there are only singles this time and there will be less exposure to the table before we start playing. It will be mentally more challenging. We have to adapt quickly to the conditions. That’s one of the reasons why I got the table so that I can train well,” said Sathiyan, after inaugurating ‘Sathiyan TT Hall’ at his father’s house in Chennai on Sunday.
Sathiyan said he will directly fly to Doha after the Nationals. There are four tournaments in Doha: WTT Contender (Mar. 3 to 6), WTT Star Contender (Mar. 8 to 13), World singles qualification tournament (Mar. 14 to 17) and the Asian Olympics qualification (Mar. 18 to 20). “It will be tiring. I am prepared. I hope I can tick both my boxes of winning the Nationals and secure a berth for Olympics,” he said.