Sports Tennis Thandi

Li Na of China plays a point after hitting the opening serve to Karman Kaur Thandi, winner of the U-16 WTA Future Stars, at the opening ceremony before the opening round robin match of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals at the Singapore Sports Hub, Oct. 20, 2014. Thandi has said her goal is to break into the top 350 of the WTA ranking. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — Rising tennis sensation Karman Kaur Thandi, who has trained with world No.1 Serena Williams's coach Patrick Mouratoglou, has set her sights on breaking into the top 350 of the Women’s Tennis Association ranking by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

The 18-year-old Delhi girl had already won the U-16 WTA Futures Star in Singapore in 2014, and played in all four major junior grand slams in 2016 – the U.S. Open, French Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Currently ranked 532, Thandi said she gets to test her skills more during her training at the Mouratoglou academy in Nice, France, where she regularly plays against top-20 players.

"At present, I am No.532 and playing a few more $25,000 ITF tournaments will help me rise in my rankings. The first goal is to reach the top 350 and then go on getting better and better till I make myself eligible to play in the qualifiers of the grand slam tournaments," Thandi told IANS from the sidelines of the launch of a new fitness line by her sponsor, ASICS.

"Training-wise, it's a lot different from India, if you see the fitness and endurance levels of the singles players from most non-Asian countries, you get the difference.

"You get good rest time, each and every requirement of yours is well taken care of and most importantly you get to test yourself by playing against the top-20 players quite often," she added.

Thandi, who enjoys playing on hard court events, in February helped India defeat Philippines 2-1 by winning both her singles and doubles matches in the last league tie of the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania Group-1 women's tournament in Kazakh capital Astana.

India is looking for the next female tennis star after national idol Sania Mirza, and that may be Thandi. Thandi, however, considers Serena and banned Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, her idols.

"Yes definitely, waiting for Sharapova's return to the court. Her aggressive style of play is what makes me follow her so closely, that matches my style too. I love playing the big serves with a strong forehand, which my coach considers my strengths," she added.

Thandi’s parents introduced her to the game at the age of eight. "My parents had put me in tennis when I was an eight-year-old. Since then I started playing tennis. Gradually results started coming in and I was building up confidence in this sport," she said.

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