Winning at World C’ships has always been a dream: Ponnappa

New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) Indian shuttler Ashwini Ponnappa has said it’s always been her dream to perform and win at the World Championships and that’s why she would try to give her best at the tournament beginning on Monday in Basel, Switzerland.

Ponnappa will be participating only in the women’s doubles event alongside N. Sikki Reddy as her mixed double’s partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy has pulled out of the tournament with injury. Ponnappa and Sikki will begin their World Championships campaign on Tuesday against Taiwan’s Chang Ching Hui and Yang Ching Tun.

“My main focus is to give it my all. There is no sure shot chance of winning for anyone. Hopefully things go well for us and we do well at the World Championships as it’s always a dream to win there,” Ponnappa told IANS.

“Our performance at the Hyderabad Open was good and has definitely given us confidence going into the World Championships,” she added.

In 2011, Ashwini won the bronze medal in the World Championships held in London alongside Jwala Gutta in the women’s doubles event. And since then, medals have eluded her at the Worlds. However, she is hoping for a better performance this time around by finishing on the podium.

Ponnappa and N. Sikki recently won the silver medal at the Hyderabad Open after they lost to Korean players Baek Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun in the summit clash.

Speaking about her camaraderie with N. Sikki — they won the bronze medal at 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast — Ponnappa said: “She is great to play with. There is a good understanding on court and both of us are very supportive and encouraging towards each other on court, which helps a lot.”

The performance of the Indian shuttlers has not been great this year as they have not been able to win many medals. Recently, Chirag Shetty and Rankireddy became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to win a BWF Super 500 event in Bangkok. Apart from that, there has been little joy for the Indian shuttlers in 2019.

However, Ponnappa feels the performance of Indian players has not been bad.

“No one likes bad performances, least of all us players. It’s not like we like losing. It is definitely very hard to get back after a first round loss. But that is what sport is and the knowledge that there is even the slightest possibility of us doing well and reaching our goals is what keeps us going and helps us get back to court to work hard to get it,” said Ponnappa.

“There have been a few good performances the last couple of months with players reaching the semis and also winning big tournaments. That is definitely motivating for everyone,” she added.

Speaking about her own performance, the Indian shuttler believes that she is just focusing on putting up her best foot forward and working on basics.

“The roster has been hectic, but despite our first round losses the matches we’ve lost and the quality of them have been good, so it’s just about having faith in ourselves and continuing to work and trust things will fall into place.”

She also spoke about her association with Red Bull and said: “I am extremely grateful for all the support I’ve received from Red Bull India. It’s been a great association with them, where I got to do things with them to help shed light on doubles and also do some cool stuff with them.

“We organised the first edition of the exclusive women’s doubles tournament in the country, Red Bull Shuttle Up last year, aimed to further boost and improve participation and popularity amongst aspiring women players.”

(Aakash Kumar can be contacted at aakash.k@ians.in)

–IANS

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