India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran marked his return to competitive table tennis with a hard-fought victory in the Polish Superliga on Friday.
Playing for his club Sokolow S.A Jaroslaw, Gnanasekaran beat Szymon Malicki of AZS Awfis Balta 11-3, 5-11, 11-8, 12-14, 11-5 in five games.
Sokolow S.A Jaroslaw eventually beat AZS Awfis Balta 3-1 in the tie.
It was a special victory for Gnanasekaran, who last played competitively in March. Due to travel restrictions, Gnanasekaran joined his Polish team only hours before the match.
"It's a great feeling to start with a win despite not being at my best. I was quite rusty and my game was on and off,” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran told Sportstar.
“Thankfully, I hit top gear in the last game and found my rhythm. I was able to move better and played with more confidence. Hopefully, I can take this momentum into the upcoming matches.”
While it was a good feeling to start with a win in the Polish Superliga, it did not come under the best circumstances. Sathiyan landed in Gdansk, Poland late on Thursday night and was only able to get in one hour of practice before the match.
Moreover, the extreme weather conditions made his acclimatization more difficult.
“Coping with the cold weather has not been easy. It was very cold inside the hall as well, making it difficult to move swiftly,” said the Chennai-based Gnanasekaran, a city known for its hot and humid climate.
“Since I hadn't been in a match situation for a long time, I found it difficult to keep the rallies going. My feet weren't moving quickly enough in the right direction and the main challenge was to figure out his tactics during the game.
“However, I capitalised on the momentum when I had it,” added the Indian table tennis player.
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and his team Sokolow S.A Jaroslaw will play their next Polish Superliga tie on Sunday against ASTS Olimpia-Unia Grudziadz.