13 Mar 2018

Korea is present in force; so is Hong Kong, amongst the leading male names on duty at the forthcoming 2018 ITTF Challenge Polish Open, which commenced with the qualification tournament in Spala on Tuesday 13th March, names from those two associations are very much in evidence.

Notably, Lee Sangsu flies the flag for Korea, he is the top seed in the Men’s Singles event; he is listed one place ahead of Ukraine’s Kou Lei with colleagues Jeoung Sangeun and Jang Woojin being the next in line; Ho Kwan Kit and Jiang Tianyi head the Hong Kong contingent and complete the top six names.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

However, note the immediately ensuing name, note the name of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran; if there is any player who is on fire, the 25 year old is in the form of his life.

At the recently concluded Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open, he endeared himself to those watching avidly in the tiered seating; notably he beat Japan’s Yuya Oshima in seven games, before losing to the latter’s colleague, Tomokazu Harimoto by a similar margin in round two.

Most players who competed in Qatar and are on duty in Spala will welcome the few days of rest before matters start in Poland; I’m sure Sathiyan Gnanasekaran would have preferred to have started last Sunday evening!

Also on duty for India in Poland is Sharath Kamal Achanta, the mainstay of the national team throughout the current century, he is ninth seed in the Men’s Singles event, one place below Korea’s Lim Jonghoon. Like Sathiyan Gnanasekaran he was in form in Qatar. He advanced to the second round of the Men’s Singles event and also caused Japan problems; he caused an upset of note by beating Koki Niwa in round one prior to losing to Denmark’s Jonathan Groth.

Equally, in the Men’s Doubles event, together Sharath Kamala Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran advanced to the quarter-final stage, losing the China’s Fang Bo and Lin Gaoyuan, a contest in which they had more than one chance to cause what might have been regarded an upset.

In Spala they are the fourth seeds in the Men’s Doubles competition; Korea heads the list with Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu in the top seeded spot. They are followed by Hong Kong. Ho Kwan Kit and Ng Pak Nam occupy the second seeded spot pursued by Jiang Tianyi and Lam Siu Hang.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sharath Kamal Achanta head the Indian challenge but note the supporting cast; also on duty are Harmeet Desai, Soumyajit Ghosh, Sanil Shetty and Amalraj Anthony.

Like the 563.35-carat flawless sapphire, the Star of India, could that group of players, as the Commonwealth Games looms ever closer, prove precious gems in Spala?

Challenge Series Sathiyan Gnanasekaran Sharath Kamal Achanta

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