Sharath confident of defending CWG title

New Delhi: High on confidence after bagging two international titles in as many weeks, including maiden Pro Tour crown, Olympian paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal wants to continue his red-hot form till October, when he defends the men`s singles title in the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

World number 76, Sharath clinched the US Open title at Michigan on July 4 before creating history in Egypt Open in Cairo on Sunday by becoming the first Indian to win an ITTF Pro Tour singles title.

"I am satisfied with my performance in both the tournaments, especially in Cairo. Commonwealth Games are less than three months away and I am in fine touch. Now I want to continue with the rhythm," Sharath told reporters.

"I am confident of defending the CWG title in Delhi. I have started my mental preparation three years ago because to win such a big event you need to formulate long-term strategy, things does not happen overnight," said Sharath.

But the Chennai lad was also well aware that he will have to handle the pressure of expectations when he plays in Delhi Games before the home crowd.

"I know that pressure will be there because people expect me to perform. But I want to encash the huge support I will get during the Games. Peoples cheering for you is itself very inspiring which will help me," he said.

Although satisfied with his showing recently, the 28-year-old feels there are still room for improvement.

"I think, I have to work hard to maintain my form. My movement was quite fast in the recent tournaments which is a good thing and I want to keep it up," Sharath said.

"Another aspect is mental strength which impacts your performance at international level. I am working on that and hope that I would perform even better in the coming days," he added.

It would have been a hat-trick of international titles had he won the Indian Open, which was held last month in Delhi as a test event for the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games. He had crashed out of the tournament in the semifinals.

The lanky paddler was also happy with the performance of his compatriots in the recent international tournaments.

"Not only me, other Indians have also played very well in the last few international tournaments. For example, A Amalraj and Soumyadeep Roy entered the quarterfinals in Cairo which is not a small achievement," Sharath said.