INTERVIEW | Manika and myself have exceeded expectations so far, says Sathiyan 

When they decided to partner post the Olympics, they were looking at breaking the top-10 within the first year of the new partnership.

Published: 25th March 2022 10:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2022 10:09 AM   |  A+A-

Manika Batra-Sathiyan Gnanasekaran won the mixed doubles title at WTT Contender Budapest 2021. (WTT Instagram Photo)

Manika Batra-Sathiyan Gnanasekaran won the mixed doubles title at WTT Contender Budapest 2021. (WTT Instagram Photo)

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  On Thursday, G Sathiyan and Manika Batra fell short in the final of the WTT Contender (Doha).

Up against the World No 1 duo of Cheng I-Ching and Lin Yun-Ju, the Indian pair never really got going to lose 11-4, 11-5, 11-3.

But they won’t be losing too much sleep. For Sathiyan and Batra, World No 7 themselves, have already ‘exceeded expectations’ as a pair in their first year.

When they decided to partner post the Olympics, they were looking at breaking the top-10 within the first year of the new partnership.

So, it’s fair to say why Sathiyan says it. In an interview with this daily, the 29-year-old opens up about the specific training they did as a pair and putting in the hard yards post the Olympics. Excerpts: 

Your last eight months, post the Olympics

Worked a lot on the skills and details and helped a lot to come back strongly.

Happy that I could turn it around in a very short span of time (he lost in the first round in Tokyo).

Winning my third international title (Czech Open, in singles), starting a new journey with Manika, it has been excellent.

We have climbed to No 7 which has exceeded our expectations. Couple of good matches at the Worlds, first time medal at the Asian Championships.

I would say one of the best years of my career so far. 

On what you learned post Tokyo 

It’s important to have lots of variations to understand the game and keep changing. Can’t just go in with one strategy. So you need to change and adapt.

Also did a lot of video analysis. Worked on my fitness as well. Those details has made a difference. 

On your primary targets with Manika when you first joined hands 

We wanted the partnership to last a long time, till the Paris Games. Since we know each other well in terms of our games, it was easy to adapt.

We also started to complement each other on the field.

Speed, deception, understanding of our opponents... lot of inputs from my coach, Raman sir, has also been useful. We use a lot of specific tactics, watch a lot of match videos, analyse them.

Initial target was maybe top-10 within the first year. It’s the big boy game now, playing against World No 1, big medallists on a constant basis, it’s a lot of learning. We will get better. 

On reasons for the early success

Lot of quality training, it has been on point.

We have been smart in seeing the areas we could improve much faster in. A lot of video analysis, plus her rubber (Manika plays with a long pimple rubber) is a plus point. It’s not easy even for opponents to negotiate. 

On the focus area in training 

The most important part was our footwork co-ordination. In TT, the key part is that your partner has to play one ball and you have to play the next.

Unlike in badminton and tennis.

The footwork co-ordination for this is key.

In doubles, you have to keep moving even when you are not playing (the next ball). You have to be in proper position so that your opponent can have proper access to the ball. 

On separate cameras to capture footwork patterns 

Yes, we did have that (cameras). Specific footwork patterns of our backhand and forehand. How we move for specific plays: backhand, forehand and so on.

I felt that was one area that was lacking. To have that, you really need to play more doubles. We have executed it well. 

Full story: newindianexpress.com



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