The Desk Tennis Nationwide remaining has had not more than heartbreak for Gnanasekaran Sathiyan. He’s been there thrice, however by no means managed to win the summit conflict. On Tuesday, he reached his fourth. And in Achanta Sharath Kamal, the India No 1, he’d face his hardest compatriot.
After six gruelling video games, Sathiyan lastly had Match Level. Championship Level. And when he secured his first ever title within the 82nd version of the occasion, he gestured in the direction of his paddle, after which his jersey, after which shook arms along with his opponent – a person who has received the occasion 9 occasions. On the sidelines of the Tau Devi Lal Sports activities Advanced, Sathiyan’s coach S Raman – a four-time nationwide champion himself – had begun to tear up, whereas the 28-year-old took his time to soak within the achievement after his 4-2 (11-6, 11-7, 10-12, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8) win within the males’s singles occasion.
“I’ve been making an attempt to win the nationwide title for a very long time,” Sathiyan says to The Indian Express.
“I’ve reached three finals and three semi-finals, and I imagine that this win is personally very near my coronary heart. The achievements of the Asian Video games and Commonwealth Video games are a lot greater than this, however this was a childhood dream and can stay a reminiscence to cherish all the time.”
The Chennai-lad had taken a 2-Zero lead over the 38-year-old, who’s ranked 32 on this planet, just for the veteran to degree up the proceedings.
“I acquired a little bit carried away after two video games and after the fourth recreation, I informed myself not to consider the ultimate,” Sathiyan explains. “Sharath was taking part in a advantageous brief play, however my forehand assault and flicks labored nicely for me and I’m glad that I may get this monkey off my again.”
A powerful forehand was not unseen in Sathiyan’s repertoire. However he confirmed that the shot has solely gotten greater since he labored on it through the lockdown. And with a brand new modification to his paddle, it’s turn into an much more potent weapon.
It maybe explains why he tapped it after he received the title.
New rubber, greater forehand and difficult serves
The lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic pressured Sathiyan to take time away from aggressive desk tennis, however it gave him an opportunity to construct up his physique. He labored on bettering his health along with his physio Ramji Srinivasan, whereas Raman began to chalk-out a brand new technique to enhance his recreation.
“For a very long time I knew that my forehand was not on top of things and I labored on bringing extra brush and spin to it,” Sathiyan says.
“So I modified the rubber I take advantage of to Dignics 09C. It’s a bit stickier, so it has the friction to generate extra spin. It’s additionally a tough rubber, so it provides extra tempo.”
To get extra spin although means quite a lot of wristwork.
“I needed to generate extra effort from my wrists and the additional bodily work within the health club helped me regulate to the necessities of the brand new bat,” he provides.
Raman nevertheless had taken it upon himself to verify his ward introduced in higher variations within the serve. Over the previous few years, the pair wouldn’t get a lot time to spend in coaching due to the busy tour schedule. It’s been the identical since play resumed and Sathiyan travelled to the Polish and Japanese leagues to ply his commerce.
Within the brief break that adopted, Raman had ready a particular program for coaching.
“This time my first focus was to alter his service profile. We had detailed discussions on how he’s going to serve and return serve. Then we went via totally different service motions,” says the 51-year-old coach.
“Whether or not it was spin, rotation or angle, we studied every side and developed some totally different types for him. The largest factor was getting him to serve like a left-hander and we labored on bettering the banana (curving) return. The way in which he units his forehand assault was the important thing and the brand new rubber provides him higher management and affect to do this, together with taking part in deceiving pictures too,” says Raman.
Nationals accomplished, Olympic qualifiers subsequent
Over the previous few years, Sathiyan has made speedy strides up the rating ladder. The present World No 37 has been as excessive as 24 – the perfect for an Indian – and has even reached a World Cup quarterfinal, again in 2019.
All of it, nevertheless, was to set himself up for a run on the Olympics in Tokyo. And he’s continued to discover totally different avenues to assist him put together as a lot as doable for the quadrennial even in July.
Journeys to Poland, the place he performed for Sokolow SA Jaroslaw, helped him get again into the groove. However a stint in Japan, the place he performed for the Okayama Rivets meant that he may rub shoulders with the likes of World No Four Tomokazu Harimoto and former No Four Jun Mizutani (his teammates on the membership have been former World No 5 Koki Niwa and former No 21 Masataka Morizono).
“Spending time with any individual like Koki Nawa and seeing Harimoto and different high gamers made me perceive how gamers like them method the sport. Their focus is extra on the standard of strokes moderately than hitting extra balls and that helped me change my mindset,” he says.
There’s nonetheless the prospect of Olympic qualification that Sathiyan has to deal with earlier than he can e-book one other ticket to Tokyo.
In March, he’ll compete in two World Desk Tennis Contender occasions in Doha, adopted by the World and Asian Olympic qualifiers on the similar venue.
Raman in the meantime has already deliberate what the main focus needs to be on: “growing the vary of pictures, bettering the brief recreation and counterattack.”
However Sathiyan now has a spring in his step. In spite of everything, he’s managed to overcome a title that has eluded him on fairly a couple of events. And beating the evergreen Sharath within the remaining made successful the title all of the extra prestigious for him.