Priority now is to win gold at Commowealth games: Sathiyan
Chennai, Jan 12 (PTI) G Sathiyan, currently the top ranked Indian table tennis player as per the latest ITTF rankings, has set new targets, including winning a gold at this year's Commonwealth Games and breaking into the top 20.
Having enjoyed a good run in 2017, Sathiyan is ranked No.49 and has edged past A Sharath Kamal (51).
This included winning the Spanish Open in November, his second IITF Pro Tour title, a feat which no other Indian has managed.
A gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in April is now his priority.
"I am happy that I have been able to surpass my own expectations, of breaking into the top-60 and breaking the top-50 barrier. I am on a high and have to keep improving and set tougher targets. One of my aims is to win gold at the CWG," he told PTI.
He has jumped 19 places to reach a career-high world ranking of 49.
The Chennai paddler says what looked near impossible a few years ago (breaking into the top 100) has become a reality due to the hard work and mentoring by Olympian and former national champion S Raman since 2012.
"..I'm looking to break into the top-20 next year," he said.
The 24-year-old said one of the reasons for his success in 2017 was taking calculated risks and not worrying too much about the results, which gave him confidence to take on and beat top players.
"The change from a player with a defensive mindset to one with an attacking intent made a lot of difference."
Sathiyan, an engineer, said Raman has been a great motivator and made sure he remained focused. He also worked on his technique.
"I have to thank Raman for his help and Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu and GoSports Foundation for their support," he said.
He rated his victory at the Spanish Open as one of his most cherished moments.
"The win at the Spanish Open was the best moment of my career. I played very well. I felt I was in the zone and was surprised by what I was able to do," he said.
He said having six players in the top-100 is a big boost for India and augurs well for events like CWG and Asian Games.
Apart from Sathiyan and Kamal, the other Indians in the top 100 presently are: Soumyajit Ghosh (58), Harmeet Desai (60), Sanil Shetty (68) and Anthony Amalraj (87).
"It is good that there are six Indians in the top 100 and everyone is in good touch and motivated too. This gives us a good chance to go for gold in the CWG," he said.
The right-handed paddler, however, feels that the Asian Games later this year will be a different challenge with the Chinese expected to be at the forefront.
"If we are able to raise our level of play, we can shine as there is no pressure of expectations given the high standards," he pointed out.
He also said the Chinese dominance can be challenged.
"We can definitely catch up with them. In fact, a German (Dimitrij Ovtcharov) is the current World No.1. We need more exposure," he added.