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Sharath Kamal Targets Success at Indian Open After Winning Nationals

Ace Indian table paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal is on a comeback trail after suffering an injury and he has started on a good note by winning the recently concluded Table Tennis Senior National Championships.

Pratik Sagar | News18 Sports

Updated:February 8, 2017, 3:22 PM IST
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Sharath Kamal Targets Success at Indian Open After Winning Nationals
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New Delhi: Ace Indian table paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal is on a comeback trail after suffering an injury that kept him out of the sport for six months and he has started on a good note by winning the recently concluded Table Tennis Senior National Championships.

Sharath remains India's top ranked player after breaking onto the circuit by winning the gold medal at the 2004 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. He is also the only Indian table tennis player to represent the country at three Olympic Games.

After winning the nationals, Sharath's next target is to perform well at the 2017 India Open organised by 11Even Sports Pvt. Ltd., which is scheduled to be held from February 14 - 19 in the capital.

In an exclusive interview with News 18.com, Sharath said that playing and winning against the top talents in the country at the senior nationals has set the tone for the entire year.

"The senior nationals had some really tough matches quarter-finals onwards which got the best out of me. So I would say it has been an ideal preparation for me ahead of the all important Indian open", said the 7-time nationals champion Sharath.

The India Open is part of the elite Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour, with only 11 other countries hosting its events.

Apart from Hungary that has already hosted the first leg in January, Qatar (Feb. 23-26), Japan (Jun. 16-18), Korea (Apr. 20-23); China (Jun. 22-25); Australia (Jun 29-Jul. 2); Czech Republic (Aug. 24-27); Austria (Sep. 1-3); Bulgaria (Sep. 7-10); Germany (Nov 10-12) and Sweden (Nov. 16-19 Nov) will see action at this highest level.

Apart from Sharath, the other Indian paddler who will be in contention at the tournament will be Soumyajit Ghosh, whom Sharath beat in the final of the Nationals. Soumyajit created history in 2012 when he became the youngest Indian ever to represent the country at the London Olympics.

“Soumyajit beat me in the final of the 2012 edition of the senior nationals, so it was sweet revenge for me that I beat him this year," chuckled Sharath.

The competition at this year's Indian Open will be tougher than ever because of the presence of two top-10 players of the world — Dmitrij Ovtcharov (World No.6) of Germany and Vladimir Samsonov (World No.8) of Belarus.

“It's great that these Olympics medallists are coming to India as it will help in building the sport in the country. When you watch them live, you get a sense of how they prepare and also it's great for the young players to get to know their patience levels. Look at Samsonov, he won his first Olympic medal in 2000 and now his next Olympic medal came in 2016 — which is after a gap of sixteen years. The tournament can be a good platform for youngsters to watch and learn from close quarters," said the Arjuna Awardee Sharath.

The 11th seed is also happy with the prospect of coming up against his old sparring partner Dmitrij Ovtcharov.

“I lost to Dmitrij (Ovtcharov) at the 2010 Indian open semi-finals and he was also able to beat me at 2014 World Championship in Dusseldorf. We even practice together in Dusseldorf and sometimes he comes to India as well, so it will be nice to play against him," said the world number 69.

Sharath also revealed his main goal for the season after missing most parts of the last year due to an injury and the ace Indian paddler is hopeful of cracking the magical 30 when the season ends.

“My main goal for the year is to break into the top 30. I had reached World Number 33 but then had to miss the game for 6 months due to injury. Now I am slowly trying to climb back. After Indian open in February, there is Asian Championship in April and then World Championship in May, hopefully I will be able to reach my goal," signed off Sharath.

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| Edited by: Baidurjo Bhose
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