Achanta Sharath Kamal, who had a fairly successful 2010, is hoping to build on it by gaining a direct berth in the Olympics.
“I am hoping for a direct qualification into the main draw of the 2012 London Olympics. It looks a reality now as I have moved into the top-40 of the world rankings,” said Sharath, who enjoys a career-best ranking of 39.
“The top-28 get a direct entry into the Olympics main draw. I can secure a place if I am able to sustain my ranking around 40,” he added.
Each country is allowed a maximum of two players in the Olympics main draw. The two-player rule will force a lot of eliminations as countries like China, Japan and Korea have quite a few players in the top-30. “Realistically, if my ranking is around 40, I can fancy my chances of gaining a direct entry,” said Sharath.
In a bid to protect his ranking, the player has planned his itinerary accordingly. “I am trying pick up those tournaments in the pro-tour which have a better field, allowing me to defend points and keep my ranking safe,” said Sharath, whose best in the pro-tour came with Egypt Open triumph in July last year.
“The best is to play the pro-tour in the period between March to May as the Olympics main draw direct entries are scheduled to be decided in June this year,” Sharath said. “If that happens, I will have one full year to prepare for the Olympics.” About his progress in the world rankings, the player said the financial support that came with the Commonwealth Games build-up had helped him enter the big pro-tour events.
“The challenge is to sustain my pro-tour participation when the financial support is no longer there,” he said, adding that he would try to arrange alternate funding to participate in pro-tour events of his choice.
It has been five years since India's highest-ranked player ever has shifted base to Europe to get a feel of the pro-tour. Initially, he played in Spain before moving to Germany late last year.
Now playing for TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen, the second best club in Germany, Sharath said playing in the Bundesliga and European Champions League was paying dividends.
“The good thing about training there is that I interact with the top players of the world. Everyone has his own set of goals, but we all work together to improve our game,” he said.