Sathiyan breaks the jinx, crowned national champFebruary 24, 2021, Chandigarh
World No. 37 and second seeded Petroleum paddler G Sathiyan lifted the UTT 82nd National Table Tennis Championship at Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Sector 3 here today.
In a thriller, Sathiyan defeated tournament’s favourite A Sharath Kamal 11-6, 11-7, 10-12, 7-11, 11-8 and 11-8.
“Third time I was lucky, no more jinx. A huge burden off my shoulder,” said Sathiyan. Before Cuttack, he had missed out at Puducherry (2014) and Hyderabad (2015). The 4-2 win also helped him carry home Rs2.50 lakh prize money.
Taking a 2-0 lead, Sathiyan made his intentions loud and clear. But he knows his experienced opponent can change the flow of match in a matter of minutes. And Kamal did strike, taking the next two games. But, as seen often, Kamal had his problems unable to land the ball. Converting those moments to his advantage, Sathiyan nailed it again and went 3-2 up.
As if on cue, Sathiyan kept his backhand blocks and forehand scorchers going, pushing Kamal on the back foot as hard as possible.
Kamal should own up the mistakes for his losing heart in the match, allowing Sathiyan to take control slowly but surely. It’s equally important to give full credit to Sathiyan, the new champion, who punched his way up the ladder with a lot of hard work.
“In the end, it was a good match, and he deserved to win,” said genial Kamal. He attributed the loss to the lack of concentration in the fifth game after leading 8-6. “Two crucial mistakes cost me dearly at that stage. But Sathiyan let me off the hook in the third to come back. These are part of the game. I am happy for him,” he said.
Kamal is not yet giving up chasing his 10th title. “I will certainly come back strong and aim for it,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Kamal began well in his semi-final against fourth seed Manav Thakkar. But in the second, Thakkar went 3-1 up before letting Kamal take his second point. And both exchanged a point before Thakkar striking a nice rhythm to lead 9-3.
Kamal added two more points and that was all he managed. In the third, Thakkar surged ahead and led 10-7 up. Saving three game points, Kamal converted his second game point to go 2-1 up. In the fourth, the seasoned took control of the game before wrapping it up comfortably. However, the sixth was a touch-and-go affair. The lead kept changing hands until Kamal had his first match point at 10-9. The top seed and World No. 32 failed to convert while squandering two more before sewing it up on the fourth.
On the other hand, Thakkar dropped three game points. But the credit must go to last year’s runner-up, who matched Kamal’s attacking way of play. Thakkar’s backhand and wonderful placements caught his opponent on the wrong foot as the latter time and again indulged in false stroke. Kamal, employing his backhand blocks and powerful flips, upped the ante only to drop his guard now and then. But there was hardly a moment in the match when Kamal looked out of control.
In the second semis, SFR Snehit lost the match when he allowed second seed Sathiyan to claw his way back from 2-10 down. Another chance came his way when he went 11-10 up. But Sathiyan nailed it to win the game 13-11. After that, Snehit was never in the match.