Serena Williams gifting me her autographed racket is a moment I cherish: Karman Kaur Thandi
From winning the WTA Future Stars U-16 title in 2014 to becoming only the sixth Indian after the likes of Sania Mirza and Shikha Oberoi to break into the Top 200 in women’s singles, Karman Kaur Thandi has achieved a lot at a quite a young age.
Karman Kaur Thandi is hardly a stranger to big occasions. From winning the WTA Future Stars U-16 title in 2014 to becoming only the sixth Indian after the likes of Sania Mirza and Shikha Oberoi to break into the Top 200 in women’s singles, the 20-year old star has achieved a lot at a quite a young age.
The year 2018 has been extremely special for the youngster as she earlier won the $25,000 Hong Kong tournament and, last week, teamed up with Ankita Raina to win her maiden WTA doubles title at the Taipei Open.
The Indian pair lifted the trophy after a dramatic final where the fourth seeded pair of Olga Doroshina and Natela Dzalamidze was forced to retire after the latter suffered a leg injury with the score reading 6-3, 5-7, 12-12.
Thandi, who was in the capital as a brand ambassador for sportswear and equipment company ASICS, spoke to Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview where she discussed what the WTA Taipei Open win means to Indian tennis, her future plans and the racket she received from Serena Williams.
What has been the impact of the WTA Taipei Open title on your career?
Winning my first WTA women’s title feels great and I’m happy to win this with an Indian partner. Ankita (Raina) and I worked great as a team and fought for every point on the court. We had great communication and I truly enjoyed every moment. I think it’s just the beginning; I’m getting the feel of my first WTA title and it’s just great motivation for me that we belong at that level.
The final moments of the game that you won, how did you feel? What was going on in your mind?
It was a roller coaster ride. We saved a couple of points and were 5-2 down at the super tie-break. We had two match points but we saved like 4-5 match points and at the end it was 12 all when one of our opponents fell on the court and injured herself really bad and she could not get up. So it was really upsetting, because it was a great fight on both the sides and we didn’t really feel like celebrating the win. But now that I am back and I’m looking on our win, it is an extremely proud moment for us.
What are your future goals after winning the WTA Taipei Open title?
Right now the goal is to get into the grand slams, which is the Australian Open 2019, so the first goal is that and then getting into the top 150 in the singles rankings hopefully by the next year.
Will you be concentrating more on doubles now or singles still remains your primary concern?
Definitely the main focus is on singles right now, playing against the top girls in WTA. The match against Svetlana Kuznetsova in Guangzhou was a good one and it really motivated me as I was able to take a set from the former grand slam champion. I feel the Indian girls are only getting better. I am excited to see more of us propel into winning titles as we represent our country and the talent here.
How will you describe your time at the Mouratoglou Academy in France?
I’ve trained there for two years and it was a great time with all the staff, the coaches, physios and the players training in Europe. You get to play with the top WTA female athletes. For example, I got to practice with Alize Cornet and Patrick Mouratoglou, who is my idol Serena Williams’ coach.
I was happy that I got a chance to share the court with them; his inputs on my game has made me more aware and they were helpful in my development. All in all, the fitness aspect and facilities they have are great for a player and they really take care of a player both mentally and physically.
Finally, tell us about your tennis racket that you received from your idol Serena Williams?
Yes, that was four years ago, when I played at the WTA Future Stars tournament. I won the competition and at the draw ceremony of the WTA finals, I got the racket from Serena with her signature on it and I’ve kept it with a lot of care. For me, it’s one of the greatest memories I cherish.