Sathiyan Gnanasekaran has been one of India’s hottest prospects in table tennis over the course of the last five years. Right from the time in 2011 when he was a part of the Indian team that won the bronze medal at the Junior World Championships, Sathiyan has only gone from strength to strength.
He is currently ranked 32nd in the world having dropped 8 spots from his best ranking of 24th in May, 2019. 2020 was touted to be the year where Sathiyan breaks into the next level. However, the Indian team failed to qualify for the Olympics following Sathiyan’s losses against lower-ranked opponents.
Sathiyan then put the dejection behind him by clinching silver at the Hungary Open with teammate Sharath Kamal. He was also scheduled to play in the Japanese league which has been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
‘The last two months have been productive’ – Sathiyan
In a recent interview with Firstpost, the 27-year-old Sathiyan opened up about his experiences over the course of the year including how he trained with a robot during the lockdown.
“It was fun in the first month training against a robot. Then it got boring,” Sathiyan said. “You don’t feel that connect!”
“I don’t remember ever staying at home first of all for four months. Not playing. The maximum time I have spent at home was probably two months, that too during my Standard XII board exams,” he added.
Sathiyan then spoke on how he is bent on improving his serving and receiving. “My rally game has always been really good and in the baseline game I can take on the top 20, or even the top 10, players. But the point would be over before I could get there many times,” he said.
“That’s why we were working majorly on serving and receiving (during the lockdown). My serving and receiving is good, but when you compare it to the world’s top 20, or the top 10 players, there’s definitely a long way to go. These two aspects are very critical to break into the next level. During the lockdown when I didn’t have anyone to practice with, the best thing I could do was work on my serve and receive,” he further said.
He then shed light on the lockdown and life during the pandemic “I would say there has been some light even in a very dark year. I could learn a lot of things, spend some time with the family. The mental aspect has gotten better. The last two months have been very productive as a player. We made use of the lockdown time pretty well. I’m feeling like a much improved player, or a different player after working on specific skills. Probably that would help me get into the next level: Top 20,” he said.
When asked to sum his year, Sathiyan smiled and said, “2020 has definitely not been a great year for anyone, I suppose. Very hard, a lot of surprises”.
Also Read: TFFI planning national meet in November