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Love challenges, best is yet to come: Paddler Sathiyan

Kolkata, April 30 (IANS) Fast rising table tennis player G. Sathiyan feels his best is yet to come, a day after he became the first Indian to break into the top 25 of the latest world ranking list released by International Table Tennis Federation.

“I am happy with the way I am playing and I feel I am moving in the right direction. But I feel the best is yet to come,” Sathiyan told IANS from Chennai.

“I have started to beat world-class players more frequently. I still feel the best is yet to come and I am marching towards my goal of top 15 by the end of this year,” said the engineer turned table tennis professional.

Sathiyan jumped four spots to be 24th in the lastest ITTF rankings, following his sixth place finish in the Asia Cup in Yokohama earlier this month. Riding the result, he secured a place in the World Cup scheduled to be held in Chengdu from October 25 to 27.

Last week, he was the sole Indian to reach the round of 32 in the World Championships in Hungary.

Sathiyan’s rankings shot up thanks to a series of fine performances over a period of 12 months, beginning February, 2018 (the best eight are taken for consideration). They include the Qatar Open (reached the round of 16), Hong Kong and Korea Open (round of 32), Australian Open (round of 16), and Austrian Open (round of 16).

The Chennai player also won an Asian Games bronze last year.

Asked if there is pressure of expectation now that he is India’s top-ranked male table tennis player, Sathiyan laughed: “I love playing under pressure. I enjoy the challenge.”

The next few months will be gruelling for Sathiyan with the World Table Tennis Championships, seven Pro Tours (China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic), Ultimate Table Tennis League and the Commonwealth Championships all lined up before the World Cup.

(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at debayan.m@ians.in)

–IANS

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