by Simon Daish
Being only the second player from India to win a World Tour Men’s Singles gold and seeded 25th for the 2016 Belgium Open, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran has caused a major shock with his victory on the final day of the De Haan event.
Both Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Cedric Nuytinck had endured tough last four encounters, with the full seven game distance required to see off Harald Andersson (Sweden) and Benedikt Duda (Germany) so the expectancy of witnessing a thrilling conclusion to the tournament was high.
The final had all the makings of a spectacle: two unexpected finalists, both players looking for their first Senior title on the Tour and a great atmosphere within the hall. But the Belgian fans weren’t greeted with the result they had hoped for, as their man Cedric Nuytinck fell to a straight games defeat to Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.
Game one couldn’t find a victor after the opening 20 points so deuce was needed, and it was Gnanasekaran who took the early advantage and gained a 1-0 lead. Then it was a case of Gnanasekaran beginning to pull away from Nuytinck, as the Indian player won the second and third ends to establish what would surely be an insurmountable advantage.
Nuytinck was in trouble and before long Gnanasekaran put the result beyond any doubt in game four with another win in deuce (15-13, 11-6, 11-2, 17-15).
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran spoke following his victory over Cedric Nuytinck and was ecstatic about the win:
“It’s amazing! I win my first World Tour title. It is even the biggest moment in my career. The form throughout the tournament was very good, I already felt great at the Czech Open. I caused many upsets also because I was relaxed. In the final I had nothing to lose and Nuytinck had more pressure and I was able to take the opportunities that I got” – Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (India).
The 2016 Belgium Open champion also took time to talk about the significance of his success for his home country of India and his aims for the future, “Now I will party with my friends here. Many sport fans in India watched the final on itTV. The number of views must have been extremely high.” Gnanasekaran added, “I will now go back to Germany and prepare for other tournaments. Table tennis is becoming more and more popular in India. My goals? Climb as high as possible on the rankings. I am still young, a place in the top fifty is my goal.”
Saturday 24th September: Men’s Singles – Main Draw