Sathiyan to train with Chinese paddler Yaohuan ahead of ITTF World Cup

World No. 30 Sathiyan Gnanasekaran is the only Indian to have qualified for the World Cup which will be held in Chengdu, China from November 29 to December 1.

Sathiyan said he was happy with the way he has played so far this year and pointed out his quarterfinal appearance in the Asian TT championships as a great achievemen. (File Photo)   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the country's top-ranked table tennis player, will train with Chinese paddler Shen Yaohuan in Chennai as a part of his preparation for the 2019 ITTF Men's World Cup Championship.

The 26-year-old, who is ranked 30 as per the latest ITTF world rankings, is the only player from India to have qualified for the World Cup, which will be held in Chengdu, China from November 29 to December 1.

Sathiyan will train for a week with Shen Yaohuan, who earlier worked with the Chinese Taipei team. "It is the first time I will be having a one-to-one training session with a Chinese player in India. I zeroed in on a  player from China as they are still the best players in the world and I wanted to be familiar with their high speed game," Sathiyan said.

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"Since I was busy travelling and playing in tournaments, the training had to be scheduled according to my availability in India. Then we had to get his visa, arrange his stay here and it took a few months.  I am glad finally it has happened.  His expenses are being taken care of by the Central Government under the TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme).

"I am also grateful to my employers ONGC for all support. It is a new beginning. We may soon see Indian teams training often with Chinese players,'' said Sathiyan, who came to Thiruvananthapuram from Germany to play for ONGC in the All-India Public Sector TT Championships.

Sathiyan said he was happy with how he had played so far this year and highlighted his quarterfinal appearance in the Asian TT championships. He also praised the impact of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league.

"I was the first Indian to reach the quarterfinals in the Asian championships after 43 years, which is great achievement. The world has started taking Indian players seriously," he said.

On the UTT league, he said it had played a big role in making India a TT destination. "We have earned the respect of the world. Normally, it was unthinkable for a Chinese player to come to India. The gap between India and other top nations has narrowed down. UTT was helpful for Indian players to observe world stars from close quarters and it brought down the aura surrounding them."

Sathiyan will spend some time in December training with the Korean team.