Triple-medallist Sathiyan strikes big on debut

G. Sathiyan considers winning the doubles match against Singapore with Harmeet Desai and following it up with a victory in the singles match to be the marquee moments.

G. Sathiyan (right) poses with the silver medal he won with his men's doubles partner, Sharath Kamal.   -  AFP

Returning with a medal of every hue following his Commonwealth Games debut, G. Sathiyan has more reasons to be happy than any other Indian medallist.

A team gold, men’s doubles silver (with Sharath Kamal) and mixed doubles’ bronze (Manika Batra) were in keeping with Sathiyan’s newly-found recognition that came after he started the year as the
country’s highest ranked player in the world.

“Pulling off the crucial doubles (with Harmeet Desai) against Singapore and then winning my singles to put India 2-0 up against Nigeria in the final were really the big moments for me,” said the jubilant 25-year old engineer during his Tuesday’s stopover in the Capital on way to Chennai.

Read: Sharath, Sathiyan secure silver

“I had not played doubles with Harmeet, since Soumyajit Ghosh is my regular partner. In Ghosh’s absence, I thought we combined pretty well.”

Talking about the crucial 10-12, 11-3, 11-3, 11-4 victory over Nigeria’s Segun Toriola, Sathiyan said, “I got over the nerves of playing the team final in quick time. I was moving well and executing every shot well. But once I dropped the opening set after leading 10-6, I realized I should not expect a single point in charity. Thereafter, I played relentlessly.”

Ranked 46th in the world, Sathiyan lost in the singles quarterfinal to England’s Samuel Walker, the man whom Sharath dominated in the bronze medal match.

“That day, Samuel played at a level that I had not seen him play. I played well but he was clearly better. Even my coach S. Raman Sir, who came on his own to Gold Coast for me, felt there was very little I could do to stop Samuel. Raman Sir’s presence was invaluable for me. He kept pointing to the areas where I could improve. That really helped.”

On the men’s doubles final, Sathiyan said, “Sharath and me knew it would be tough against England’s Paul Drinkall and Liam Pitchford. We did well to draw level and then take a 2-1 lead. Thereafter, we could not keep pace with them.

“It was rather unfortunate that we had to play another Indian pair (Sharath and Mouma Das) for the mixed doubles bronze. We played better and did not give them much chance. So, it felt good to sign off with a medal.”

For Sathiyan, letting slip two match-points in the mixed doubles semifinal was the biggest disappointment of an otherwise dream week.