by Simon Daish
Qualification for the India Open gets underway on Tuesday 14th and comes to a close the following day Wednesday 15th, while the main draw will take place between Thursday 16th and Sunday 19th of February in New Delhi.
Massimo Costantini coached India to five medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games (1 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze), and now the Italian, who is in his second stint in charge of the country’s table tennis players, is confident that Indian representatives can go out and perform well at the 2017 India Open in front of the home crowd when he spoke to Rakesh Rao.
“Among the men, Sharath Kamal Achanta obviously looks good and Soumyajit Ghosh is closing the gap. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai have also performed well in the recent National Championships. Much depends on the draw. Since they are playing at home, the conditions should favour them. A couple of upsets from the Indians cannot be ruled out”, Massimo Costantini.
Madhurika Patkar made table tennis headlines last week when the 29-year-old won the Women’s Singles title at the Indian National Championships for the first time in her career on Sunday 5th February.
With 16 out of the 28 players representing India in the Women’s Singles competition at the India Open coach Massimo Costantini is expecting to see Madhurika Patkar continue to display some of her recent success when the ITTF World Tour visits New Delhi.
“I am not yet clear about the size of the draw in the ladies section. But certainly, the qualifying rounds will feature only Indians. Going by the form displayed by Madhurika Patkar, I expect her to be in the main draw. She is capable of causing an upset”, Massimo Costantini.
Indian table tennis fans were left somewhat disappointed at the 2016 Olympic Games where all four of India’s competitors made day one exits in Rio de Janeiro, and it was following the conclusion of the event that Costantini was brought in to help coach India for the second time.
Part way into his contract and Costantini is impressed not only with India’s senior players but also with some of the younger names starting to come through.
“Going beyond the event next week, we play the Thailand Open on our way to the Asian Championship. I expect our players to produce some surprises. These are small goals for now. I can see the intensity of their training is getting better. Thanks to the competition within this group, the quality is improving. There are some young players who are going to test the seniors. Manav Thakkar has the potential to move to the next level in the coming months”, Massimo Costantini.