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Sharath, Sathiyan confident of making it to Tokyo

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With two crucial international tournaments clashing with each other, India’s top paddler Sharath Kamal has spoken to Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) and asked for clarification.

While the WTT-Star Contender is scheduled from March 6 to 13 in Doha, the Asian qualification tournament is due to be held in the same city between March 13 and 15.

A problem

“There is a problem. What if I reach the semifinals of Star Contender on March 13? Then how can I compete in the Asian tournament which starts on the same date? If TTFI asks me to skip the Star Contender and play in the other tournament, I have no choice.

“But playing in Star Contender will help me improve my world rankings,” Sharath told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, after a poor show in the World team table tennis championships in Gondomar (Portugal) where they failed to qualify, the Indian players would be keen to make amends in singles and make it to Tokyo Olympics through the Asian qualification event.

The winner of the [South] Asian tournament will directly qualify to the Olympics.

India’s top two players, Sharath and G. Sathiyan, [Olympic] ranked 32 and 37 in the world, being the highest-ranked paddlers in the field, are hoping to reach the final given the quality and rankings of those in the fray.

Even the second-placed player, too, has a chance to qualify for Tokyo.

According to the qualification system, of the players who finish second in all the regional qualification events, one will go through based on his/her world rankings.

On this count, both Sharath and Sathiyan are confident and believe they don’t have to play in the World singles qualification tournament in Doha from March 16 to 19.

“We should make it in men’s singles,” said the duo.

India is hoping to make the Olympic grade in mixed doubles too with Sharath and Manika Batra pairing up.

Manika and Sutirtha Mukherjee will play in the women’s singles in the Asian qualification tournament.

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