G Sathiyan all set for Japanese challenge after stellar Polish stint

Table tennis player Sathiyan will be the first Indian to play in the Japanese T-League, one of the best leagues in the world.

By Rahul Venkat

After sitting at home for almost seven months in a tumultuous year due to COVID, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will be off to Japan after a successful stint in Poland this month.

Sathiyan played four matches for Sokolow S.A Jaroslaw in the Polish Superliga. He won all his matches to resume his season in the best possible manner. And now, a new challenge beckons him in Japan.

The 27-year-old Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will become the first Indian table tennis player to feature in the Japanese T-League next month when he takes to the table for Okayama Rivets.

“It is the best league in the world, with players in the top-10 and top-20 regularly featuring in the tournament,” Sathiyan told The Times of India. “I will probably be an underdog every time I play a match there.”

The lockdown may have given him a long break from table tennis, but Sathiyan was innovative in his training. He practised with a robot at home to keep himself sharp, try and improve his reaction time and work on a few other aspects of his game.

Being in a match situation offers him the best chance of executing the things he worked on and his four-match stint in the Polish Superliga allowed him the opportunity to do just that.

“I was very rusty to start with but after the first win, the momentum was on my side,” added Sathiyan.

“My last two games were much better as I moved well and did all things right. I exceeded my own expectations because I executed my plans better.”

The world No. 32 returned home to Chennai on Friday morning and will undergo a 14-day quarantine before flying out to Japan, where he has signed up for 12 matches with the Okayama Rivets.