G Sathiyan joked that some seems, winks and phrases had been exchanged between him and Manika Batra. Besides this time, not as blended doubles companions however opponents within the ongoing Final Desk Tennis (UTT) in Pune. Turning up for Bengaluru Smashers, Manika and Kazakh Kirill Gerassimenko beat Dabang Delhi’s Sathiyan and Slovak Barbora Balazova, a mix and end result that made Sathiyan really feel totally different but completely happy.
“Enjoying towards one another, and with different international gamers, may also assist us to know one another’s recreation higher. She (Manika) was capable of learn the sport effectively and present good kind,” Sathiyan stated in Pune. “I hope we will get this way going into the Asian Video games.”
On the final Asian Video games in 2018, the blended doubles occasion gave India a memorable medal. It was Sharath Kamal-Manika then fetching solely the second Asian Video games desk tennis medal for India. It’s Sathiyan-Manika now searching for a 3rd in Hangzhou and a shot within the arm for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The current type of India’s world No.7 pair although has been a blended bag. They’ve had semi-final runs in WTT Contender occasions in Doha in January and Tunis final month, but in addition first-round exits within the final two tournaments in Ljubljana (Star Contender) and Zagreb (Contender) and a second-round end on the Star Contender Bangkok in April. Every of those early defeats got here towards Asian pairs, that are certain to lurk on the Asian Video games.
Sathiyan and Manika additionally misplaced to a lower-ranked Swedish pair within the Spherical of 16 of this yr’s World Championships, the place they’d made the quarter-finals in 2021; the yr they received a WTT title quickly after pairing up publish the Tokyo Olympics with an eye fixed on Paris.
“There have been some nice wins, there have been some unhealthy losses. In blended doubles, it’s regular,” Sathiyan stated. “We have been bettering, realizing one another a lot better now.”
A key a part of that bettering course of from these “unhealthy losses” is collective evaluation. Sathiyan and Manika notice down what went incorrect, the previous stated, and spend a whole lot of time going by movies with inputs from S Raman, Sathiyan’s coach. “Raman sir is actively concerned as our blended doubles coach. He is been watching particular movies for blended,” he stated.
Some “small adjustments” should be made to “enhance our video games much more”, Sathiyan stated. That primarily includes the primary strike, each in serving and receiving. “We have been superb on the rally recreation. However at first of the sport, that is the place the Asians are a lot stronger. So, if we will begin competing with them on these serve and obtain elements and take the sport into the longer baseline rallies, that is the place we’re actually good at and the place now we have an awesome probability,” Sathiyan stated.
With their packed match schedules and singles calls for, engaged on that collectively is just not that straightforward. Sathiyan and Manika although are making a acutely aware effort to do this extra often. Sathiyan travelled to Manika’s coaching base in Hyderabad earlier than the Worlds in Might, whereas Manika too went to Chennai. They’re now taking a look at a few coaching blocks earlier than the Asian Video games — one in Bengaluru and one in China — to enrich their recreation time on the Asian Championships and WTT tournaments. They may compete on the WTT Contender Lima instantly after UTT concludes.
“I’m travelling to Lima just for blended doubles. That is the dedication I need to give to the occasion. And it is vital to indicate that dedication; journey 30 hours for a blended doubles occasion. I really feel like we’ll have a very good mix of tournaments and coaching going into the Asian Video games,” Sathiyan stated.
Sathiyan is optimistic that the dedication, coupled with the recognized areas for enchancment, will take them to the subsequent stage in an occasion that he believes provides the very best probability for an elusive “podium end” for Indian desk tennis at Paris Olympics. The Asian Video games will mark “an vital pitstop” in that path, a continental check the place the six larger ranked pairs — two are from China and one every from Japan, Korea, Chinese language Taipei and Hong Kong — will doubtless be within the fray with them.
“We now have crushed the Korean pair, the Hong Kong pair. We now have been shut with the others, besides the Chinese language (No.1 Wang Chuqin and Solar Yingsha); they’ve most likely not misplaced a match in 4 years. Besides that pair, I really feel each pair is beatable,” Sathiyan stated. “We’re nonetheless prime 10 on the planet. We’re virtually there so far as qualifying for the Olympics is anxious. We’re bettering, and there’s rather more understanding now. Earlier than Paris, we need to be within the prime 5 and provides ourselves the very best probability to win the medal.”
Sathiyan-Manika within the final 5 tournaments
WTT Star Contender Ljubljana: Spherical 1
Misplaced to Wang Yidi/Lin Gaoyuan (CHN) 6-11, 5-11, 4-11
WTT Contender Zagreb: Spherical 1
Misplaced to Cho Seungmin/Lee Zion (KOR) Sept. 11, 11-9, 12-10, 8-11, 11-13
WTT Contender Tunis: Semi-final
Misplaced to Shin Yubin/Lim Jonghoon (KOR) 7-11, 8-11, Sept. 11
World Championships Finals: Spherical of 16
Misplaced to Christina Kallberg/Truls Moregard (SWE) 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 10-12
WTT Star Contender Bangkok: Spherical 2
Misplaced to Miwa Harimoto/Shunsuke Togami (JPN) 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, Sept. 11, 6-11