Ashwini Ponnappa: No emotions attached to partners

The 28-year-old was asked by coach P. Gopi Chand to play with P. V. Sindhu – splitting with regular partner Sikki Reddy – in the women’s team quarterfinals against Japan.

Indian batminton players Ashwini Ponnappa and PV Sindhu in the women's doubles match during the 18th Asian Games.   -  PTI

Doubles partnerships in badminton are fine relationships as long as the going is good. And when the time comes for a break-up, it is better that the coach makes that decision, says Ashwini Ponnappa.

The 28-year-old was asked by coach P. Gopi Chand to play with P. V. Sindhu – splitting with regular partner Sikki Reddy – in the women’s team quarterfinals against Japan at the Asian Games in Jakarta on Monday.

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“When you decide to part ways, it’s always nasty in the end. It’s kind of easier when the coach makes the decisions,” Ponnappa said after the match. “In the last two years, I’ve had three partners in mixed doubles: [K.] Nandagopal for two tourneys, Sumeeth Reddy for five and now Satwik [Rankireddy]. If they were my decisions, it wouldn’t have been easy for me… But now, there are no emotions attached to the partners, it depends on what the coach says.”

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Ponnappa has been one half of India’s most successful doubles pairing with Jwala Gutta, winning a bronze model at the 2011 World Championships – the country’s lone doubles medal at that level.

In Jakarta, Ponnappa said she believes she and Sindhu could pull off a win against Olympic women’s doubles champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi on Monday.

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“I did believe that we could have done that. Sindhu is really strong, she has got a hard smash, but they were extremely smart with their attack, they had a lot of angles and variations with their smashes. And unfortunately, Sindhu doesn’t play doubles.”

Ponnappa felt that, as a nation, India had a long way to go in doubles.

“We are going in the right direction, having doubles for players from a very age. We should start at Under-16. Under-19 is a little late because other countries focus on doubles at a very young age so their defence and their reflex actions are very fast.”