Sharath Kamal on the cusp of breaking into top-30

Ace Indian paddler Sharath Kamal is eyeing a career-high sub-30 world ranking following the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia.

Talking about the medal-prospects of the team in the Asian Games, Sharath Kamal said, “India should reach the quarterfinals without much trouble. I’m told Japan is not fielding its top players. In the quarters, you need a bit of luck. If we escape facing China or Japan, then we have a good chance of reaching the semifinals provided we play to our potential.”   -  Getty Images

Sharath Kamal is eyeing a career-high sub-30 world ranking following the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia. The table tennis star, currently ranked 43, hopes to breach his career-best of 32 when the rankings are announced on September 1.

Speaking to Sportstar on the sidelines of Table Tennis Federation of India-hosted felicitation function for the medal winners of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games here on Sunday evening, Sharath said, “Owing to my pre-quarterfinal finish in the Australian Open, I expect to be around 35 in the rankings on August 1. Thereafter I’ll need only 300 more points to break into the top-30. I hope to get the necessary points from my two singles in the first team championship match of the Asian Games.”

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As part of its preparations for the Asian Games, the Indian squad will be headed to Chengdu (China) for a 10-day camp. “Though the Chinese National team will also be training at the same centre, we won’t get to see them,” said Sharath who sported a tonsured-look following his recent visit to Tirupati.

Talking about the medal-prospects of the team in the Asiad, Sharath said, “I think, India should reach the quarterfinals without much trouble. I’m told Japan is not fielding its top players. In the quarters, you need a bit of luck. If we escape facing China or Japan,
then we have a good chance of reaching the semifinals provided we play to our potential. Of course, once in the semifinal, a medal is assured.”

About his recent showing in the Australian Open, Sharath sounded pleased. “When I left for this event, I was not sure of my performance. After all, I had changed my equipment and started using the Andro rubbers. I was not sure how my shots would land. But I got back my confidence after I won (4-0) against Chinese Taipei’s Yang Heng-Wei in the group stages.

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“Thereafter, in the main draw, the 4-2 victory over Simon Gauzy (World No. 11 and France No. 1) helped in reinforcing my confidence. I have beaten him a few times in our Bundesliga encounters, as well, since his game suits me.

“In the pre-quarterfinals, (World No. 23) Patrick Franziska struggled to read the loop of my top-spin returns. I led 3-2 but in sixth set, this German hit two flat returns, once on either flanks, and his confidence was back. I struggled from that point (and lost 3-4).”

Sharath concluded by saying, “I aim to reach my peak match-fitness in Chengdu to meet the challenges in the Asian Games.”