CHENNAI : From heartbreak to glory — a path only for people with mental fortitude. After overcoming the disappointment of missing out on the Rio Olympics, G Sathiyan created history by clinching the men’s singles crown at the Belgium Open, becoming the second Indian to win an ITTF event.
The paddler beat local favourite and World No 113 Nuytinck Cedric 4-0 (15-13, 11-6, 11-2, 17-15) in the final. Sathiyan’s achievement is even bigger considering his triumph came on European soil.
Achanta Sharath Kamal, the first to win a Pro-tour event, did so by annexing the Egypt Open in 2012. “This is my most memorable achievement till date. I didn’t even dream of winning. My aim was to play well and bag one or two upsets. Being able to emulate Sharath anna is also special,” he told Express.
The 23-year-old beat higher-ranked opponents en route the title, starting in the second round against World No 103 Jon Persson. He then beat World No 75 Steffen Mengel in the quarterfinals.
Sathiyan, who went to Germany three weeks ago for practice, said foreign exposure helped. “My coach S Raman told me practicing abroad will help learn new styles, and add to my game. The facilities are excellent here. I plan to come back after two weeks,” he said. Sathiyan practices at ASV Grunwettersbach, and plays for TSG Kaiserslautern.
Raman feels mental conditioning was key. “In India, we don’t take the mental aspect seriously. Beating higher-ranked opponents is more mental. After his father’s death and the Rio snub, he was low. I told him to move on, and prove himself again, and he has done so with aplomb. He has got age on his side, and hopefully, he will keep up the hard work,” he added.
The World No 152 Chennai lad says the win will help him come close to the top 100, and eventually his target is to break into the top 50 within the next two years.