2022 goal already achieved, Karman Thandi hungry for more
"The past couple of years have been tough. I had constant injuries and had to spend quite a lot of time out of the court," Karman told The Bridge.
Back in August 2018, Karman Kaur Thandi was the toast of the nation. Aged just 20 then, she was amongst the top 200 ranked players in the world by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) at 196th spot.
The youngster was expected to continue her meteoric rise in the next few years, but it never came. The covid-19 pandemic coupled with constant injuries, which saw Thandi being out of the tennis court for close to two years, meant that her career plans went a bit off track.
The 24-year-old, however, seems to be hitting her peak once again, having clinched the biggest title of her career at the $60,000 ITF Saguenay last month and reclaimed her India number 1 rank.
"It is all a part of the process of getting back to my best," Karman told The Bridge.
"The past couple of years have been tough. I had constant injuries and had to spend quite a lot of time out of the court. It was nice to get that win in Saguenay, shows that I am on the right track," she added.
Karman, nevertheless, believes that it was a blessing in disguise that the long injury lay-off came during the covid-19 period.
"In hindsight, yes I feel blessed that a major part of my injury was during the covid-19 period. It was certainly not a nice feeling not being in the circuit and missing out on competitions. I used to practice a bit then too, but practice sessions can never come close to the match intensity," she said.
Making a comeback was always difficult, but Karman's job was made a bit easier by the people she surrounded herself with.
"It was a team effort. I can never say it was all me. I had lots of people who helped me push through during that injury phase. My coaches, family, and friends that I surrounded myself with. It was necessary to have that sounding board where I could express myself and vent out," she said.
With her win in Saguenay, Karman Kaur Thandi broke into the top 220 WTA rankings after a long time other than reaching India number 1 once again.
"Breaking into the top 220 was the goal for this year. Now that it is achieved, I just want to give one final push and end the season on a high," she said.
The 6'ft tall star also competed at the WTA 250 Chennai Open earlier in the year, where she crashed out in the second round against the experienced Eugenie Bouchard.
"It was special to play in front of the home crowd, and I had a decent performance too with my coach travelling alongside. It was the first big event in India and was a very good platform for me and fellow Indian players to showcase ourselves to the world. We should have a couple of more tournaments like this in India and it should help give tennis a much-needed boost in the country," she said.
Karman has her eyes set on competing in more WTA events and making it to the Grand Slams.
"Transitioning from ITF to WTA is just about maintaining my ranking. In the last couple of years, my rankings fell quite a bit but I was still beating girls ranked in the WTA 160-200 range. When you play at this level, every match is tough be it ITF or WTA," she said.
"Yes, I have made it to the top 220 but that is not enough. I needed to play more WTA tournaments and need to get into Grand Slams with some consistent performances," Karman stressed.
But, for now, she wants to stay fit and stay on the circuit.
"All this can happen only if I stay in the circuit. I cannot afford to get injured again. During the comeback phase, the focus was on staying healthy – both physiologically, and psychologically and managing the injury. For now, I want to take it day by day as it comes. I have that hunger to be better," Karman signed off.