August 12, 2022

Karman Kaur Thandi was poised to be the next big star in Indian women’s tennis. In August 2018, she reached a career-high singles ranking of 196 when she was just 20, only the sixth Indian woman to crack the WTA top 200.

But a cruel combination of injuries and the pandemic shutdown of sports cost him a good part of three years. Now 23, Thandi still has age on her side, and with her strong desire bolstered by biomechanical changes to her game for injury prevention, she’s gearing up for another return to the ITF Tour – l lower echelon of tennis.

“The last two years have been tough in terms of fitness and Covid. It’s tough when you keep getting injured and just when you come back to recovery, do all the right things, you get on the pitch, play a few games and you’re back to square one. That’s the most frustrating part,” Thandi told ESPN.

The current world No. 478 is set to play the ITF 25K event in Chiang Rai, Thailand this week, her first match since retiring at a similar level in February. It was just another in a string of injury-forced mid-game retirements. The most recent being in Pune last December and perhaps the most shocking during the 2019 Miami Open qualifiers, after earning a wildcard for the WTA Premier Mandatory tournament.

Two of them in the space of a few months at the end of last year, after a final visit to Italy which should have marked a turning point. Turns out it was the last round that made things worse.

“It started with a shoulder injury, then in the last tournament I played in Italy I shot through the abs in the quarter-finals. [But] I continued because I was in good shape. I pushed myself and ended up aggravating the injury. It took a few weeks to recover, but every time you push your body, another part is affected. My shoulder and then my elbow were, so the last tournament I quit was because of my elbow. It was really painful because afterwards I wasn’t able to do basic everyday things like lifting a spoon,” she said.

Thandi and her longtime coach Aditya Sachdeva say they have now identified and rectified the root cause of the series of injuries. They worked with physiotherapists and fitness trainers and functionally changed some things with his game, which will be properly tested in the coming weeks.

“It’s the same chain that was not working properly that we have now managed to diagnose,” RoundGlass Tennis Academy technical director Sachdeva said on the sidelines of the academy’s first induction program where Thandi was also present. .

“Some parts of the body in the biomechanical chain were not functioning leading to overcompensation of other parts leading to the injury. We have gone through the entire kinetic chain and now we are ensuring that all body parts pass over all blows.”

Will these changes affect his big serve and forehand, which are his strengths? “Let’s wait and see, maybe you’ll find it’s bigger serve and forehands,” Sachdeva said with a smile.

Thandi said she stayed motivated throughout the tests by doing other things she enjoyed, such as reading and yoga. Her family also made sure she stayed positive. “What I can do at this point is give my 100%. It’s under my control, the things that I can’t control, I don’t give too much attention to it or power to it. is very important.”

Equally wise is his objective for the rest of the year: to stay in competition, to stay healthy and to manage the game continuously even in the event of injuries. “Injuries are part of a player’s life, so it’s not like it’s going to happen again. But if it does, recovery shouldn’t take too long. in my mind, if I’m 400, it would be around 250,” she said.

“I just want her to stay injury free and compete,” added Sachdeva in an even more honest assessment. “We know her potential, she hit around 190 about three years ago and then the injuries started to kick in.”

If Thandi can indeed stay fit and compete for the next few months to push her ranking high enough, there is a chance that she could be the future of Indian women’s tennis once again.