Sathiyan: ‘I knew this was my day’

The Dabang Delhi captain dominated proceedings in both the singles and doubles encounters. With his positive body language and agility, he was keen to “fight for every point.”

The scintillating pair of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Bernadette Szocs remained unbeaten for Dabang Delhi in the mixed doubles, beating Benedikt Duda and Manika Batra 2-1 (11-10, 5-11, 11-8).

The scintillating pair of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Bernadette Szocs remained unbeaten for Dabang Delhi in the mixed doubles, beating Benedikt Duda and Manika Batra 2-1 (11-10, 5-11, 11-8).   -  Ultimate Table Tennis

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran seemed unstoppable during Dabang Delhi’s clash against RP-SG Mavericks at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex in New Delhi on Sunday.

First, he defeated World No. 46 Benedikt Duda, via a 3-0 margin (11-9, 11-7, 11-6). In the keen tussle, Sathiyan showcased his attacking prowess, attacking the flanks and often ready with an effective block against Duda’s forehand topspin. Then, he combined with Romania’s Bernadette Szocs to defeat Duda and Manika Batra 2-1 (11-10, 5-11, 11-8).

A positive body language makes a big difference, Sathiyan said after the contest.

“It makes a big difference – what sign you show to your opponent. Even though Jon [Persson] was winning [in his singles tie against Sanil Shetty], he said ‘I’m feeling so nervous, winning the set.’ I said ‘forget about winning the set. We want you to go out there and play your game, and if you lose, the opponent should be like ‘thank god I won,’ you know.’ That is the feeling you give to the opponent.

"I think I made that also with Alvaro [Robles, of Goa Challengers]. I was fighting for every point; he had to earn it. So, with Duda I knew when I started very well, I could feel that the ball was coming very [nicely] to me and the feet was moving well. I knew this was my day. If he had to win against me, then he had to play better than me. So I got this feeling the moment I started; and after that, I just enjoyed the match,” he told Sportstar.

READ: UTT 2019: Sathiyan powers Dabang Delhi to the top, Mavericks faces elimination

Elaborating on his gameplan against Duda, he said, “I was much faster than him, because he steps back a little bit. He takes one step back from the table; I knew I had to really play sharp angles much quicker so he gives me a weak reply and I finish it. I think I had a big advantage in my serves as well. So that was the key.”

In the fourth tie of the contest, an expectedly one-sided affair turned exciting in the second game. Sanil, placed 252nd in the world rankings, was playing Jon Persson, the World No. 63 from Sweden, and nearly won the game. Jon had a fall, too, and Sathiyan revealed he was nervous.

“I just told him, ‘keep mixing serves, and stay aggressive. But don’t expect you will serve and just win the point,’ because there were many points which were serves and receives. I said, ‘try to bring him into the rally. Try to mix it up; try to bring him into the rally and make him hit. Don’t try to be passive but don’t try to be very aggressive either. Try to be mediocre (sic), and just stay in the match. And between Sanil and you, you are a better player, so eventually Sanil is going to break, when you keep at him.’ That is what I said to calm him down. He was very excited surrounded by the crowd, and today, Sunday, it was packed. So, he was very nervous and he said, ‘I’m shaking, I’m so nervous.’ But Jon played fantastic today,” Sathiyan remarked.

Dabang Delhi, currently placed second in the points table, plays Chennai Lions next on Thursday, August 8.