Abhishek Yadav, who fought hard before going down 2-4 to World No 1 and top-seed Chinese Zhendong Fan in the semi-finals of the Asian Youth Games in China this August, is hoping for a podium finish at the India Junior and Cadet Open Table Tennis Championship that gets underway at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Stadium, Worli today.
Currently ranked 127 in the world, Yadav’s defeat to Fan earned him the bronze medal at the event. It’s no wonder then that the 18-year-old cited Chinese paddlers — He Huabing, Beizeng Wang, Yuhao Wang — as his biggest threats in this tournament.
“The Chinese players are a tricky lot to handle,” said the Kanpur lad, who is yet to get over his close contest against Fan. “Winning a bronze at the Asian Youth Games was a huge confidence booster for me.
Though I lost (to Fan), I will never forget the experience of playing against the World No 1 with the crowd supporting him. My aim is to first help India win a team medal here and then concentrate on my doubles and singles events. I am confident we can win medals,” said the first year student of the Manav Rachna International University, Faridabad.
National coach Sandeep Gupta said he was hoping for at least seven medals in the USD 8,000 prize money event. “We have two internationals — Sudhanshu Grover (World No 85) and Abhishek in the boys team. In the women’s section, Manika Batra (World No 30) is our best bet.
I’m confident we can win about seven medals in the tournament,” he said. The junior girls team will be led by Suthirtha Mukherjee and Manika, while India’s challenge in the cadet girls will be led by Sagarika Mukherjee and Sreeja Akula.”