India’s newest world champion Koneru Humpy says it was a dream to win a world title but the triumph in the rapid format surprised even herself as she was always a contender in the classical format.
Humpy capped off 2019 in stunning fashion since she made a comeback to the sport this year after starting a family.
“This is my first world title. People were expecting me to become a world champion for a long and it really came unexpected. I was not favourite in the rapid tournament. I finished well in the final standings and it went into the tie-break,” Humpy told PTI after returning from Moscow.
She had finished 12th in the blitz event that followed the triumph in rapid format. Humpy, based from Vijayawada, said she has an unfinished business in winning the world title classical format and she will strive to achieve that. She had lost in the world championship final in classical format to Hou Yifan in 2011.
“I was always the contender but I did not become the champion. I came close to it. I will continue playing and fighting for that. It will come when it has to. It is a totally different challenge for the classical world title. You need different types of skills for different formats. I will continue to give my best to realise that one big goal.”
About being away from the game and what motivated her to make a comeback, the 32-year old, who has a two-year old daughter, said she had never quit the sport.
“I always wanted to comeback and it was planned. Once she [my daughter] was born, after she was one-year-old, I decided to start playing tournaments. But, of course, the first few tournaments were bad performance for me.
She added, “Obviously with a break, playing at a higher professional level, it is expected that it is not easy to succeed. From January onwards, I started doing well. I started off with Gibraltar and did pretty well there.”
Her major victories were in the women’s Grand Prix in September in Russia and joint-first finish at Monaco Grand Prix. She was also the best foreign player in the Chinese League, where she remained unbeaten.
“Overall, I had a good performance in the year  with a gain of 30 rating points in classical and around 45 points in rapid,” she said.
Humpy, who has won multiple world titles in the age-group events, said she would be playing the Grand Prix finals in May in Italy apart from various other tournaments.
The Indian ace, who admires boxer Mary Kom and tennis legend Serena Williams for their stupendous performances after childbirth, said looking after her daughter while making comeback became easy with the help of her family.
“My parents and in-laws stay in the same place. It is a 10-minute drive, so it is easy for me to send the baby to them while I am working. It is manageable,” said Humpy, who was tipped to be a world champ by many including Viswanathan Anand.
“Right now, it is time to enjoy this memorable win,” she added.