N Sikki Reddy shunned singles owing to a serious knee and on doctors’ advice she switched to doubles – the Hyderabad girl has surely done justice to her ‘switch’ winning the senior nationals in women doubles as well as finishing runners-up in mixed doubles.
The 22-year-old – a product of Gopichand Academy – also won the mixed doubles gold at the 2016 SAF Games besides finishing runners-up in women doubles. Sikki made her senior international debut in 2009 and was part of the Indian team that won the bronze medal in the women’s team event at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. She talks about her game and much more in an exclusive interview.
Q. You won the 2016 Senior Nationals crown in women’s doubles alongside Pradnya Gadre and finished runners-up in mixed doubles alongside Pranav Jerry Chopra. Your thoughts.
I expected to win both the titles but unfortunately lost my mixed doubles very closely 22-20, 22-20, it's was just not our day. But losing makes me work more harder and harder. I didn't have any pressure at all in the women doubles as Pradnya had just returned from injury – she was off the court for 6 months and had hardly practised before the nationals. So it was good that we won the nationals as this will give confidence to Pradnya.
Q. How would sum up your performance at the recent Singapore Open?
We played good at the Singapore open as we didn't have any pressure at all because me and Pranav Jerry Chopra just started playing mixed doubles and our progress was going quite well from the New Zealand Open and India Open. Hopefully, we would continue this consistency and upset some top pairs.
Q. You regularly play in women doubles and mixed doubles – how difficult to cope with both categories in terms of workload?
There is a lot of difference between women and mixed doubles. It's quite difficult to manage both but from past few months I was concentrating more on mixed doubles as my women doubles partner was injured. When you play the both the events the workload also increases, so you have to prepare for that mentally and physically, then only you can play both the events.
Q. I believe you left singles long back. Any reason for that?
I have injured my knee couple of times - ACL & Meniscus. So my doctor told me if you love the sport and if you wish to continue for a long time then you have to shift to doubles.
Q. What are the goals you have set for 2016?
I want to break into the top-30 by 2016-end in mixed doubles and win a couple of Grand Prix tournaments with the new partner (Pranav Jerry Chopra). My women doubles partner Pradnya is still not so fit, so once she is completely ok we will sit and plan.
Q. Which has been the most cherished win so far?
My mixed doubles win at the 2016 South Asian Games.
Q. What are the areas you would like to improve?
I have to do a lot of explosive training and strength. Physically I need to be more strong and on court I have to be consistent. I should not commit simple mistakes – that's the difference between me and top international players.
Q. Indian shuttlers now have a specialist doubles coach – how much are you benefitting?
It’s good that we got a doubles coach, we have got new ideas on the doubles how to play and what type of training we do. Our doubles coach is focusing more on the juniors and the players who has the chance to play in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Q. You represented Chennai Smashers in the PBL – how was the overall PBL experience?
It's sad that I didn't get any chance to play in the PBL but I have learnt a lot from the players of our team during practise sessions, which gave me confidence. My team members have good friends thanks to the PBL. Hopefully, next time they will put up a new rule that every foreigner has to play doubles with one Indian then it will be fun!
Q. Can you elaborate on how you started taking up badminton – who was the coaches from the beginning till your entry in Gopichand Academy?
My father loves sports - he and my dad’s brother Manohar Reddy (Babai) had enrolled me at a summer camp in 2002 at the Lal Bahadur Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad. I have won the summer camp tournament, so the coaches over there told my parents that I have good talent and that they should bring me for practice regularly. Goverdhan Reddy was my first coach and then in 2004, I moved to the Gopichand academy.