By Neha Aggarwal
Ranked no.62 in February 2017, Sharath Kamal is aware that the India Open is be a brilliant opportunity to enter into the top 50 world ranking. “My first aim is to get back into top 50 in the world, if the tournament is running good, I could end up entering the top 40 as well. I must win at least first two rounds as the main draw will be made of 64 players. To achieve my target, I must reach the quarter finals, a semi final appearance will ensure a hike in my world ranking.
Kamal is the highest ranked Indian and certainly all Indian eyes will be on him. But guess what, his eyes are set on one man- Dimitrij Ovtcharov. Apart from targeting the rankings, Kamal is also aiming to take on a revenge that he has been waiting for since a long time now.
“In the 2010 India Open, Ovtcharov beat me four-nil in the Men’s singles semi finals, and it still hurts. He keeps on reminding me of that match till now. He jokes that the match got over pretty fast, in just 20 minutes. We played a fairly close game in 2014 Men’s World Cup where I lost to him just by two points. I could have had the revenge there but probably it’s waiting here in New Delhi,” said Kamal.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov, ranked no.6 in February 2017 official world ranking, is undoubtedly the most touted player to win the title in New Delhi, but the 34-year old Indian is determined to stop him from doing so. He continued, “I have always played well at home, be it the 2015 Asia Cup, the 2010 Commonwealth Games or the 2009 Asian Championships. In the international matches I am myself. Ovtcharov and I often practise together in Germany and are good friends too. But, I am ready for the challenge this time.”
A fitter Kamal
Kamal has been juggling between India and Europe for a long time now. He has been playing for the German club Borussia Düsseldorf for the last four years which has been incredibly successful for his professional career. Despite an injury in 2015 which forced Kamal to be off the table for quite some months, he now looks fitter than ever before.
“After recovering from my injury in 2015, I have changed the way I approach training. These days I devote one session to table tennis and in the other session, I work on my physical fitness. This schedule has helped me stay fit during the matches too,” he explained.
“As I am getting older, practising too much on the table is not helping me, in fact I get bored, especially if I play table tennis in both morning and evening sessions. With the new approach, I am able to concentrate on the technical and strategical part of the game and on my body at the same time.”- Sharath Kamal Achanta
A fitter Sharath Kamal, with all eyes set on his goal, is certainly a deadly combination.
Ovtcharov, are you ready?