Sharath Kamal will be chasing a record-breaking ninth title when the 80th National Table Tennis Championships begin at the Nehru Indoor Stadium in Cuttack on Friday. Sharath, who reached a career-high ranking of 30 last month, is just a step away from surpassing Kamlesh Mehta’s eight titles.
If he does that, Sharath would not only create history but could remain there as the lone Indian for a long time to come. The only challenge for him is his team mate G Sathiyan, who has been in a terrific form with a proven record and is just a spot behind Sharath at No. 31 in the ITTF rankings.
It is about the maturity he needs to bring about on table against the senior pro will be the clincher in a crunch final. However, one can certainly expect a classy final if they reach there.
Manika Batra will be the favourite to lift the women’s trophy. Ever since her performances at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games last year, her stocks has risen and she also bagged the 'Breakthrough Star’ award by ITTF at its annual awards in Incheon last month.
For the inpidual events, the prize money will be equally important as over Rs. 10 lakh to be won after TTFI increased the total composed by 10 percent and double the number of ranking points.