Pressure is a privilege, says recovering tennis star Karman Kaur Thandihttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/tennis/pressure-is-a-privilege-says-recovering-karman-kaur-thandi-6016021/

Pressure is a privilege, says recovering tennis star Karman Kaur Thandi

Playing since the age of eight, Karman Kaur Thandi knows how to deal with pressure. While the injury deprived the 21-year-old of competitive action, it did not stop her from dreaming big.

Indian tennis players Rohan Bopanna and Karman Kaur Thandi. (Source: PTI)

Recovering from a shoulder injury, India’s No. 3 ranked women’s singles player Karman Kaur Thandi feels that pressure is a privilege and also a necessity in some situations. After being given a wildcard entry at the Miami Open in March 2019, Karman retired after nine games to World No.77 Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in the first qualifying round of the USD 9,035,428 WTA tennis tournament, owing to a shoulder injury.

While the injury deprived the 21-year-old of competitive action, it did not stop her from dreaming big. “I have not played a tournament since March. I had to retire in Miami due to a shoulder injury. The rehab is still in process and I should be completely fit by October-November,” Karman told IndianExpress.com.

Playing since the age of eight, Karman knows how to deal with pressure. “My journey has been amazing till now with its ups and downs. Pressure is always there, it’s a matter of how you take it. Pressure is a privilege, that’s what I usually say. Having pressure is good in some situations,” she said.

Prior to the injury, Karman teamed up with India’s top-ranked woman player Ankita Raina to win their maiden title, grabbing the doubles trophy at the USD 125,000 Taipei OEC Open in November 2018. She is only the sixth Indian woman to crack the top-200 rankings in singles, jumping 32 places in the WTA chart as she continues to follow the footsteps of her inspiration Sania Mirza.

She started 2019 with Australian Open, competing at her maiden Grand Slam. Karman made a nervy start before going down to Jennifer Brady 0-6 5-7 in the qualifier.

“Until now it has been a hustle. I am working very hard. Getting into the top 200 is a stepping stone for me. But obviously, I want to improve and get better with each tournament,” said Karman, who would be competing in ITF Women World Tennis Tour in December. “The immediate goal is to get into 100 and then obviously the major goal is to become the best in the world.”

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“Next year I guess I’ll be playing for Australian Open. It’s a different league altogether to get into the Olympics so I would still try my best and try to qualify for Tokyo 2020,” she said, revealing her upcoming plans.

Coached by Aditya Sachdeva, the Delhi girl has also trained at Mouratoglou Academy in Nice, France. “Getting into the top 200 ranking means I get opportunities to participate in bigger tournaments, playing higher rank players, getting into Grand Slams. So that is going to give me more exposure and experience which is going to help me while I play,” she said.

Karman has received the backing of former Grand Slam Champion and World No.1 in Doubles Mahesh Bhupathi and has also received a scholarship from Virat Kohli Foundation. Supporting her for more than three years now, Bhupathi had said in an interview to tennisworldusa.org, “I think she just had the potential to develop a big game. She is a tall girl, has a big serve, and obviously works really hard.”

Thanking Bhupathi for his guidance, Karman said, “He is a very good mentor. It really means a lot, giving me exposure and helping me through times when I need expert advice.”

Karman, who idolises Novak Djokovic for his discipline, also hailed Sumit Nagal on his Grand Slam debut performance at the US Open last month.

“Sumit gave a commendable performance at the US Open, qualifying for it and then playing Federer, taking a set and playing so long. So I think it gives a lot of inspiration to the younger generation to pick up tennis. If you keep working hard, anything is possible,” she said.