New Delhi: Karman Kaur Thandi. The name doesn't really ring a bell. But ask a few tennis aficionados in India about the future star, and Thandi's name will perhaps be the first one they'll take.
A country that has been starved of top women tennis players since the exploits of Sania Mirza, Thandi has shown a lot of promise this year, which has seen her rankings rise to 307 in the world. Though it might not look very appealing, but the progress she has made in the last one year has been impressive to say the least.
But her real test is yet to start feels the 19-year-old. With the Mumbai Open in sight, Thandi feels that she has to continue doing 'right things' to make a mark in the tournament.
"2017 has been a great year for me. There are still two months left in the year and I want to make it a better year by giving it my best the Mumbai Open. I am not going to be bogged down by the pressure," Thandi told News18 in an exclusive chat.
The Maria Sharapova fan, banks on her forehand and big serves to get her returns, credits her training at the Patrice Mouratoglou Academy in France that has brought all the positive changes in her.
"I have spent two really good years at the Mouratoglou Academy. The coaches know my game really well, and they push me to my limits. They have clear diet and training programmes for me that have really helped me. All I can say is they help on and off the field."
At her academy in France, she has a company of a lot senior players, that also help her grow as a player.
She trains with world no. 38 Alize Cornet, whose her sparring partner as well. Having a top-50 player by her side too, has helped her iron out glitches in her game. These are the small things, that Thandi feels will be instrumental in making her dream come true — of playing Grand Slams.
"To enter the qualifying stages of Grand Slams, you need to be at least 250 in the world. I'm in line for that. Such kind of training focusses on all-round skill development of the player, and not just one aspect. So basically, I get to learn something new everyday," Thandi added.
Like most players are forced to choose between singles and doubles at some stage of their career, Thandi chose the former. Having said that, she still wants to keep playing the doubles whenever she gets a chance.
"Singles is the ultimate aim. But doubles too help you improve. I want to do as well as I can in the singles first. That will be my priority."
In certain ways Thandi is blessed, like the way other young Indian athletes are not. Quite early in her career she has got the backing of sponsors, to go with the training abroad. With most of her expenses covered, that gives her the liberty to just focus on the game.
"I have a great support from ASICS. Then I have been getting support from the government as well. So that gives the cushion to concentrate on my game," she concluded.