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Pradnya & Sikki bring fresh hope.

LAST week in Mumbai, the new combination of Pradnya Gadre and N. Sikki Reddy won the Tata Open India International Challenge.

Their victory over accomplished duo Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa in the final made everyone sit up and take notice.

At the National Championships here, a lot is at stake for both the women's doubles pairs. A title clash between them is hugely anticipated.

The fact that the Pradnya- Sikki pair is a byproduct of the reunion of Jwala and Ashwini gives it a touch of rivalry. Thanks to Jwala's sabbatical after the London Olympics, Ashwini paired up with Pradnya, only to return to her former partner in October. Pradnya was left to look out for a new partner, and that is where the lefthanded Sikki stepped in.

" I thought I would need to combine with a lefty and Sikki came into the picture. We thought we would make a good combination.

Our coach Pullela Gopichand also helped. After playing a few matches, we believed we could do well," Pradnya told M AIL T ODAY . Pradnya, who hogged the limelight after pocketing a whopping $ 46,000 bid in the Indian Badminton League auction for the Hyderabad Hotshots, said it would take some time for the new pair to iron out their flaws. " I do feel a left- right combination works very well. We have won two titles ( Bahrain International Challenge and Tata Open) in a short time. But we have to work on our combination," said Pradnya.

Sikki is known for her firepower from the backcourt and Pradnya for her skills at the net. Sikki feels this ability to complement each other could make them successful pair. " We feel we can do it. Jwala and Ashwini have performed so well because they were going for international tournaments.

We request the federation to give us more exposure and tournaments. Don't expect us to perform from the very first tournament.

There are not many left- right combinations in India. It is a new partnership and we need more practice to get going. It will take time to settle down," Sikki told M AIL T ODAY . " Even Ashwini and Jwala played for so many years and then they performed in last couple of years. Others can also do well when given similar exposure. We have given ourselves some time to see that we can give our best." Sikki, who made a competitive mixed doubles combination with Vladimir Ivanov with the Mumbai Masters in the IBL, called it a good experience.

" The IBL is good for Indian badminton. You play alongside the world's top players. Playing with experienced players helps you improve your game and confidence level," said Sikki.

From the point of view of Indian badminton, the option of having two women's combinations for events like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Uber Cup is welcome news.

Pradnya and Sikki are the top seeds at the National Championships.

Jwala and Ashwini, who are looking to recreate their magic, are the second seeds.

Meanwhile, the Badminton Association of India ( BAI) has revised its draw for the mixed doubles event following the Bombay High Court's order to allow Prajakta Sawant to participate in mixed doubles. Prajakta will partner Kamaldeep Singh.

New pair wants to emulate Jwala and Ashwini's success

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Dec 20, 2013
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