Sharath aims to break into top-30

Sharath aims to break into top-30

For over a decade, Sharath Kamal has been India’s best representative on the international table tennis circuit.

His career-high ranking of 32 has been the best by an Indian paddler so far. An injury in 2015 could well have put curtains on his future, but then Kamal, as he is called by his European mates, has always been a fighter. Today, at 34, he believes he is at his fittest, and eyeing glory at 2018 Commonwealth Games.

He also has a promise to keep. Of cracking into the top-30 ranking. “I started 2011 with my personal coach Linus Mernsten of Sweden. I got a contract with him on a minimal fee. So he told me if you make into top 30, I can get him a coffee. I reached 32 (in 2015) and got injured. So the coffee is still pending,” Kamal, now ranked 62, said.

It was the period when he in the midst of a fine run. He had beaten three top-20 players in the Asian Cup in Jaipur in 2015 before a hamstring injury, during World Championships in May, confined him to wheelchair for six weeks and a long road to recovery followed.

He could be at his best only in 2016 and the national title this year, his seventh, boosted his confidence. For the USD 150,000 World Tour Indian Open here, Kamal wants to keep his targets realistic.

“People are only talking about me winning the nationals, but I was doing well in international matches. I am in good shape for the tournament. If I reach the quarterfinals here, I could make it to top 50. Physically I feel I am the fittest right now. And I have to be if I have to catch up with these 20-23 year olds. Table tennis has changed a lot in these last 7-8 years — be it the equipment or technique. You have to continuously innovate.”

In fact, Kamal believes he is a “more complete player” today. “I have improved my backhand. Earlier I was more of an Asian style player with a running forehand. I am more calm in my head, at the same time I am aggressive,” said Kamal who won the gold in men’s singles at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. He yearns for an encore.

 “For me, 2018 Commonwealth Games is a serious goal. It’s been a long time since I have won a gold. I will decide on my future after that.”
DH News Service

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