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Sathiyan looking for maiden name, Harmeet relies on keeping the crown

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G. Sathiyan has beaten the competition to become the only Indian to break into the top 25 of the world rankings, but when it comes to winning the national title, he still has work to do.

After playing three finals and three semifinals in his last six appearances, Sathiyan aims to break the jinx in the next four days of the national table tennis championship that kicked off Saturday.

This is the first time that I have three weeks to train at home for the National Championship and I hope all the hard work pays off this time, Sathiyan spoke about his preparations for Panchkula on Saturday.

The tables in India are faster than what you get in Europe and that requires some adjustments. Even the floor and lighting in the arena can present some challenges. But here the venue is just world class and now it is up to the players to give their best.

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Sharath Kamal: Not a clear favorite for the national title in 2021

While most of the players stayed in India since March last year during the pandemic, Sathiyan played two weeks of league games in Poland, one month in Japan and returned to Poland for a week.

I should point out that two weeks were spent in quarantine in Japan and I gained a few pounds while enjoying Japanese cuisine during my stay at the hotel, pointed out Sathiyan with a smile and continued: The only downside to traveling for competitions was undergoing mandatory quarantine.

Unlike Sathiyan, his ONGC teammate and defending champion Harmeet Desai has much less on his mind. The reigning Commonwealth champion, also a 2019 Arjuna Awardee, currently plays some of his best table tennis. Interestingly, both Sathiyan and Harmeet played their last competitive match on January 26 this year.

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Manika Batra escapes Reeth’s grip and wins the second national table tennis title

Once the action resumed in Europe, I played competitively in France for about two months and trained in Denmark. Then I spent three weeks in Germany and another 10 days in Belgium, said Harmeet, feeling fitter compared to his days before Covid.

I am happy with my form and plan to play only one match at a time. As Sathiyan said, under these circumstances, Sharath Kamal remains the man to beat, although there are other contenders.

The last word came from Sathiyan, you have to beat at least three strong players to win the Nationals. In the past, I could only beat two. This time I intend to do better.

With the seeded players ready to take part in the action in the second round of the main tournament on Sunday night, the top seeded players will have plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments before starting their campaign.

The 16 best seeded players: 1. A. Sharath Kamal, 2. G. Sathiyan, 3. Manav Thakkar, 4. Harmeet Desai, 5. Sanil Shetty, 6. Soumyadeep Ghosh, 7. Sushmit Sriram, 8. Ronit Bhanja, 9 Jeet Chandra, 10. Arjun Ghosh, 11. Sudhanshu Grover, 12. Jubin Kumar, 13. Manush Shah, 14. A. Amalraj, 15. Sourav Saha, 16. Abhishek Yadav.

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