Aiming for Commonwealth Games medal, say Sikki, Pranaav

Ecstatic after clinching a maiden Grand Prix title at the Brazil Open, Indian mixed doubles pair of N. Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra have now set their sights on winning a medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

N. Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra, ranked World No. 65, prevailed 21-15, 21-16 over Canadian second seeds Toby Ng and Rachel Honderich in a 37-minute final, at the Brazilian Open, on Sunday night.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Ecstatic after clinching a maiden Grand Prix title at the Brazil Open, Indian mixed doubles pair of N. Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra have now set their sights on winning a medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The Indian duo, ranked World No. 65, prevailed 21-15, 21-16 over Canadian second seeds Toby Ng and Rachel Honderich in a 37-minute final on Sunday night.

“No words to express and I’m so so happy. This title will boost my confidence and make me work harder for many more titles. Me and Jerry were performing very well. We beat World No. 10 in India super series and lost a close match to World No. 3 in Singapore Super Series,” Sikki told PTI.

“But after that Jerry injured his shoulder so we didn’t play for 3 months and after that this was the first tournament so this title will give us a lot of confidence to come back to the previous form and will motivate us a lot.

“People will be watching us now so we have to work really hard and be focused. We have kept the target to come into the top-20 in the world this year. We have only four-five tournaments left which is very important for us. So next year we will focus on super series tournaments and aim for a medal in Commonwealth Games,” she added.

Talking about the Brazil Open final, Pranaav said: “It wasn’t an easy match as we knew about Toby who was with us in the same team in PBL and we were aware that he is good. So we had prepared ourselves well before the match. Initially it was going equal till the first break at 11 and then after the break we could get a lead and maintain till the end.”

Sikki had won five international challenger events last year, while Pranaav came close to winning his first Grand Prix Gold title when he and his men’s doubles partner Akshay Dwalkar reached the finals at the Syed Modi tournament.

“I wanted to win that match and we were so close to it, obviously lot of disappointment for not being able to finish on the winning side but we were very happy with the way we played throughout the tournament and it surely gave us a lot of confidence to face the top pairs in tournaments,” he said.

Asked how did they came together to play mixed doubles, Pranaav said: “It was the decision of our coach Tan who decided to pair us up as when he came I had been only playing men’s doubles and he asked me to start playing mixed again and that it would be good to pair me with Sikki.

Sikki said: “When Tan became India coach only then we got to know what actual mixed doubles is, it is totally different from before. He only made this partnership and he taught us how to play professional mixed double. So we are in safe hands and we both just started 9 months back and we are already in top-50 in just seven tournaments.”

Elaborating on Kim Tan Her’s role, Pranaav said: “Tan has played a major role by getting in specific training for mixed doubles and making us learn the skills and tactics for mixed and he is the one who made this pair and also pushes us to work harder in the training and plans our tournaments accordingly.

“He works very hard and we are very thankful that we have got him, he motivates us a lot and makes us work very hard and when we cannot push he is the one who believes in us and pushes us,” Sikki added.