G Sathiyan: The Olympics loss has helped me become a better player

The Indian paddler has been in the form of his life post Tokyo 2020

By Soham Mukherjee
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Gnanasekaran Sathiyan has been simply unstoppable since he returned to action after a heartbreaking loss in the second round of Tokyo 2020. He was 3-1 up against Siu Hang Lam but lost four games in a row to bow out of his maiden Olympics.

Since then he has won a world tour mixed doubles title, a world tour men's doubles title, an ITTF men's singles title, and two bronze medals at the Asian Championship in Doha. The honours list might be elaborate and exhausting but Sathiyan has just started with his exploits.

"It has been a great run after the Olympics. I am much more agile and playing more aggressively," he told Olympics.com

"After the Olympics, we had a detailed analysis of the game and those losses actually made me stronger. We had a lot of data and along with my coach we got into the technical part of my game and the small details where I could improve. It is now starting to give us good results. Extremely happy with my form and now I need to keep up this form for the World Championship and the next big tournaments in 2022."

He has been looked fitter than ever is a much sharper player.

"I wanted to have more mobility in my game. I wanted to have better footwork in the court as speed is my forte. Definitely, power is important but I want to use my strength to the fullest. So we worked on my movements and a lot on the service and receive games," he stated.

At the WTT Contender in Tunis last month, Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai defeated World No 7 pair of Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi of Hungary in the semi-finals. The Indian pair was under pressure from the beginning but they fought back from 0-2 down to win 8-11 12-14 11-9 11-8 11-9.

Moving away from their stock serves, they opted for the banana serve against the Hungarians and after a point of time, it yielded results.

"Hungary is like the doubles specialist in TT. So it was a tough pair to beat. The left-hander Nandor was lethal with his power but we tried to stay in the game, tried to devise a strategy that would not allow him to swing his arms and cramp them for space. Kudos to Harmeet as well for playing so well and sticking to the plan. Once we got the opening in the third game things changed for us. We started to target them through the middle and that helped us get a lot of points," he explained.

Although he has shone in men's doubles with Harmeet, he plans to pair up with veteran Sharath Kamal for the upcoming World Championship which is slated to kick off on November 23 in the United States. The Indian trio will be mixing and matching in the next few tournaments so that the country gets another doubles pair for team events in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2022.

"Me and Sharath are likely to be pairing in the World Championship. We are trying out with different partners as me and Sharath cannot play together in team events as there must be two strong singles contenders as well. So we have to be more flexible in choosing our double pairings. Harmeet and Sharat might also feature together in the future. As of now, my focus is now on mixed and singles. But in the future, me and Harmeet can pair up once again," he signed off.

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