India’s top two paddlers, G. Sathiyan and A. Sharath Kamal have had some of their best outings in the Asian Cup table tennis (men’s and women’s singles) tournament.
The duo’s best performance in the history of the tournament is a sixth-place finish.
While Sathiyan, 29, achieved it in the 2019 edition, 40-year-old reigning Commonwealth Games singles champion, Sharath, finished sixth in 2015 in Jaipur.
When the 33rd Asian Cup begins in Bangkok on November 17, they would be keen to put up a good show and improve on their performances. However, unlike the previous editions, the tournament will follow a direct knockout format this time.
“I had a very good run in 2015 where I upset two world top 16 players, and reached the quarterfinals. I would like to do that again,” said Sharath, ranked 43 in the world, to Sportstar.
Recently, at the 36th National Games, Sharath had conceded his quarterfinal match due to a back spasm but has resumed training since then.
Sathiyan, too, wants to do better than making it to the quarterfinals.
“If I get a good draw there is a good chance of making it to the semifinals. I am keen to cause a few upsets,” he said.
The top players in the men’s category include World No.1 Fan Zhendong, No.2 Ma Long, No.3 Liang Jingkun, No. 4 Harimoto Tomokazu, among others.
Ten-time national champion Sharath has a busy schedule after the Asian Cup. He will be taking part in the top division German league for his Club Borussia Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga, Champions League and German Cup from November 24.
It’s been a busy few months for Sathiyan as well. After competing in the world team championships in Chengdu (China) from September 30 to October 9, he was flown in a chartered flight, due to COVID-19 restrictions, to Macao to participate in the WTT Champions from October 19 to 23.
“There are strict quarantine rules here. We can only train and cannot go to the gym. And we are served food in our rooms and there is daily COVID testing,” he said.
After the WTT Champions, Sathiyan will play in WTT Contender in Slovenia (from October 31 to November 6) and then play in the Asian Cup before flying to France to play the French Pro A league for his Club Jura Morez de Table.