Q. Indian badminton has seen the likes of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu dominate the women’s singles scene – how do you see yourself as a significant third force in the women’s singles category for India?
Yes indeed! Saina and Sindhu have dominated the women singles scene. However, I always have an inner belief that I too, can compete at the highest level of world badminton and be successful. With passion for my game so strong, I feel that coupled with my strong work ethic, discipline and untiring dedication, and the right exposure in tournaments, it’s only a matter of time before I start performing really well on the world stage.
Q. Do you play doubles regularly – how difficult it is to balance workload for both singles and doubles?
After winning the under-16 doubles national title, I quit playing competitive doubles. I have focussed my energies entirely on singles as both events require specialised training to compete at the highest levels. At the Super Series level, every round is like a final, so recovery is very important and playing two events thus becomes very difficult.
Q. How would you sum up your singles performance in 2016 so far?
would like to term 2016 as a comeback year after ‘a not so great 2015’. I’m quite happy with the corrections and the improvements that I have made in my game – this was evident in my match vs Saina at the 2016 India Open and subsequently at the National Championships at Chandigarh. So I’m happy with my progress and looking forward to the year ahead.
Q. You lost the 2016 Senior Nationals final to PC Thulasi in Chandigarh – throw light on your overall experience in the nationals?
Overall I had a satisfying performance at the Senior Nationals – three months prior to the event I was working on certain long-pending corrections in footwork and other technical stuff. It is not an easy task at this stage of my career to correct things that I have been used to doing for so many years.
So my performance was a reflection that my progress is happening on the right track, though there still is a lot of work to accomplish. Although unfortunately I lost the Senior Nationals final, I played the right game but made errors as my new game style is not entirely a part of me as yet but I was happy with the overall performance.
Q. You have a bit of healthy rivalry with PC Thulasi – both are employed with PSPB as well. Your thoughts.
Yes, me and Thulasi have similar game styles and even our work ethic is very similar. We have played some gruelling matches with our longest being 1 hour 35 mins!! We share a healthy rivalry and respect each other.
Q. At the 2015 Tata Open International Challenge, you upset reigning World Junior champion Jin Wei Goh of Malaysia – must be carrying fond memories of that win.
Yes, that was a good win!! It was the first round and she had been in great form that year winning the world juniors and some events in Europe but I went in and played a great match – I was hitting the lines well and defending well as well - she probably couldn’t read my game.
Q. The 2013 Swiss International Tournament was your maiden international appearance in singles – how special was it for you?
The Swiss International Challenge is a special memory, especially the semifinal against the Japanese opponent which was a gruelling hard fought win! The medal ceremony was special too. Although it was a challenge event, the national anthem was played at the time of awarding the medal, which was quite emotional!!
Q. Where do you want to be in terms of rankings by 2016-end?
I aim to break into top 25 in the next one year but funding for me is very crucial. In order to achieve this target I need to go out and compete in at least 12-15 events. This is an expensive affair and a major concern for me at the moment. I need a good sponsor to further my aspirations.
Q. What improvement areas you want to focus on your game?
I’m working on certain technical corrections - footwork and racket carriage and overall becoming a lot more proactive rather than reactive on court.
Q. Tell us a bit how you started playing badminton – all coaches you played under and their duration and place?
I started playing with Hufrish Nariman at Bombay gym – I won my 1st Inter-school title under her. I trained from the age of 13-19 years with Uday Pawar and won the Junior Nationals under him.
Moved to the national camp in Hyderabad in 2012 and trained at the Gopichand academy under chief national coach Pullela Gopichand Sir and have been there for the past 3 years…I had some great wins like the 2014 Bahrain International Challenge 2014, runners-up at 2013 Swiss International, bronze medal at the Asian games and 2014 Uber Cup 2014 – all are special memories.
I have been undergoing a short corrective stint with Tom John in Bangalore over the last three months. At each stage of my journey as a player, each coach has done their very best for me and contributed to the player I’m today! I owe everything to them!
Q. How do you unwind when you are not playing badminton?
I enjoy indulging in retail therapy, swimming and listening to music helps me destress and relaxing with family and friends is a true indulgence that I rarely get to enjoy!