Indian table tennis star Sutirtha Mukherjee strives for more

The Indian paddler rose to world no. 95 and is confident about her chances of securing a singles berth for the Tokyo Games.

After rising to a new personal high of world number 95 and breaking into the top-100 of the International Table Tennis Federation world rankings for the first time in her career, Sutirtha Mukherjee has set her sights higher.

The 24-year-old paddler from Kolkata moved up 14 places in the latest ITTF rankings, while Achanta Sharath Kamal emerged as the highest-ranked Indian table tennis player.

Sutirtha Mukherjee recently rose to world no. 95 in the ITTF rankings and has her sights set higher
Sutirtha Mukherjee recently rose to world no. 95 in the ITTF rankings and has her sights set higherSutirtha Mukherjee recently rose to world no. 95 in the ITTF rankings and has her sights set higher

“I feel great [to break into top-100]. I was quite far back in the international rankings and my initial aim was to break this barrier and I am happy to have finally achieved that,” Sutirtha Mukherjee told Sportstar.

“I have been playing really well. My next aim is to break into the top-50. I am taking it step-by-step. I have to continue working harder and playing better each day,” she added.

Breaking into the top-50, however, is easier said than done.

“I will have to perform better [on the Pro Tour] and advance to the later stages of the international tournaments,” the Indian table tennis elaborated.

“Now, the more rounds you win, the more points you gain. Those who are looking to take their rankings up drastically need to play more often as there are points just for participation,” she pointed out.

Tokyo Olympics in sight

Behind only Manika Batra – who is now ranked 63 – in the ITTF top 100, Sutirtha Mukherjee is currently the second-best ranked women's table tennis player from India.

Mukherjee was also a part of the Indian women’s team that missed out on an Olympic spot at the World Team Qualification earlier in the year.

That said, she was confident about securing a singles berth for the Olympics at the qualification event in April, which had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I had a very strong chance of qualifying," she claimed. "I was in good form but there was nothing we could do."

However, Sutirtha Mukherjee is wary about keeping expectations in check in regards to Olympic qualification.

“People will expect it because we are talking about the Olympics here,” the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist said. “But it’s better not to feel or think about pressure and concentrate more on your game.”

On Thursday, the ITTF announced that all continental qualification events for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, initially slated to be held between April and May of this year, will be rescheduled to 2021.

The ITTF also cancelled all events till the end of June.

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