With India's doubles badminton struggling at the international level, star women's doubles player Ashwini Ponnappa, who has paired up with N. Sikki Reddy, is confident of reversing the trend, saying the combination is on the right track.
Ashwini and Sikki, who lost in the second round of the World Championships to Danish second seeds Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen, said it takes some time to adjust to new partners.
"It's been eight months since Sikki and I paired up. And in those eight months, we've had some good performances and some bad performances -- like any other pair," Ashwini, who was successful with Jwala Gutta as the pair won many medals in international events, told IANS.
"And being a fairly new pair, I'd say we've done well so far and are on the right track."
Ashwini, 27, and Jwala, 33, won several medals at the international stage, including a gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a historic bronze at the 2011 World Championships. But after the star pair ended their on-court partnership last year, India is struggling to put up a competitive pair in the women's doubles category.
"There are quite a few new doubles pairs. Most of them are young and don't have much experience and exposure. It will be good to give them some time and see how they fare as it's not easy being a doubles player in a country where doubles is not focused on from a young age," said Ashwini, who is sponsored by Red Bull.
"Most shuttlers in India start playing doubles seriously post their teens, which makes it hard to perform in the international circuit when they are up against players who've been groomed to excel in doubles from a very young age," she added.
Apart from women's doubles category, Ashwini is also a mixed doubles player. She was recently paired with B. Sumeeth Reddy in the mixed doubles category at the World but lost in the second round.
When asked if she will stick to the same partner in the mixed doubles category, the Bengaluru-based player said she will play future tournaments with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.
"No, I will be playing with Satwiksairaj from the next tournament," Ashwini clarified.
(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)