India’s Gnanasekaran Sathiyan created history by clinching the men’s singles title at the ITTF World Tour Belgium Open in De Haan on Saturday. The 152nd ranked Indian beat local star and World No. 113 Cedric Nuytinck, 4-0 (15-13, 11-6, 11-2, 17-15) for his maiden Pro Tour title.
With the feat, Sathiyan became the first Indian ever to win an ITTF World Tour title on European soil and the second one overall after former Commonwealth Games champion Achanta Sharath Kamal’s triumph at the Egypt Open six years ago.
Tamil Nadu-based Sathiyan had proved to be a giant-killer at this tournament. He accounted for World No. 103 Jon Persson in the second round, World No. 75 Steffen Mengel in the quarter-finals, besides beating the 156th ranked Harald Andersson in the semi-finals.
The pro was naturally elated with this accomplishment and said, “This is the best moment of my career. To beat a few top-ranked players and win the tournament is something I never imagined,” reported the Hindu.
Sathiyan made his European league debut recently
The title comes on the back of Sathiyan’s European League debut. The paddler donned the colours of the TSG Kaiserslautern in the German league at the beginning of September, and the experience definitely boosted his confidence further.
Indian table tennis icon Sharath Kamal too lauded his compatriot’s efforts.
“This is great news. Given his rankings, he was not the favourite and to win it is something big. To win a tournament which had Assar Omar of Egypt (who is currently ranked 56th) as the top seed, who was once ranked in the top-30, is no joke,” Sharath Kamal told The Hindu.
The achievement gives further credence to India’s growing stature in this sport. In December last year, India had grabbed 16 medals at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships, the country’s highest ever haul from this event.