India’s Sharath Kamal and G. Sathiyan will aim to seal their berths for the World Cup when they compete at the ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup table tennis championships to be held in Yokohama, Japan from April 5 to 7.
The field of 16, selected based on the January 2019 World rankings, features World No.1 Fan Zhendong, Olympic, World championship and World Cup winner Ma Long, Japan’s 15-year-old sensation Tomakazu Harimoto, and other top paddlers from Asia.
Sharath and Sathiyan, seeded 10th and 11th respectively, are determined to make it to the quarterfinals as that will help them qualify for the World Cup (in Chengdu, China from October 25 to 27).
"I am in very good shape as the Oman Open and Qatar Open tournaments turned out to be nice warm-up games. The competition is tight but I am very much looking forward to the tournament,” Sharath told Sportstar here on Monday.
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They will be the underdogs, but Sathiyan said it was possible to pull off upsets. “This is my second Asian Cup. With a seeding of 11, we will meet higher ranked players. But I am confident and in good form,” he said.
All is not lost even if a player is not able to finish in the Top 2 in the group to qualify directly for the knockout.
“If we finish third in the group, we stand another chance to make it to the quarterfinals. We have a very good chance to make it,” Sathiyan said.
For the veteran Sharath, Asia Cup is not new as his best finish has been a sixth place finish twice in 2014 & 2015. “With the Olympics coming up, a good performance here [Asian Cup] will definitely boost our rankings,” said the 36-year-old.
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Players are divided into four groups of four players each and will play round-robin to qualify for the next stage.
Twelve top players from Asia play in three groups (Groups A, B and C) and the four regional representatives play in another group (Group D). The top two players of Group A, B and C qualify directly for Stage 2 (quarterfinals). The winner of Group D and third placed players of Groups A, Group B and Group C will compete in play-off match to determine the remaining two players for the knock-out stage.
Confirmed entries (Men):
1. Fan Zhendong (China), 2. Ma Long (China) 3. Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan), 4. Lee Sangsu (Korea Republic), 5. Wong Chun Ting (Hong Kong), 6. Koki Niwa (Japan), 7. Jang Woojin (Korea Republic), 8. Chuang Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei), 9. Lin Yun-Ju (Chinese Taipei), 10.Sharath Kamal (India), 11. G. Sathiyan (India), 12. Kirill Gerassimenko (Kazakhstan), 13. Nima Alamian (Iran), 14. Imesh Ranasingha (Sri Lanka), 15. Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon (Thailand), 16. Mohammed Abdulwahab (Qatar).