Ruthvika Shivani Gadde can well be the unlucky talent in Indian badminton. For this gifted shuttler, who had the distinction of beating P. V. Sindhu once, had to stay away from the game for long because of injuries every time she was about to peak in the big league.

“Yes, it is terribly disappointing. I was away from the game after winning my 2015 Senior National title because of hepatitis for three months, then after beating Sindhu in the 2016 SAF Games final, helping India reach the semifinal in Uber Cup three months later and having won the Russian Open Grand Prix which helped me to be ranked in the top 50, I had to take another long break because of injury,” says the 20-year-old shuttler in a chat with Sportstar after her recent title-triumph in the Tata Open India International Challenge singles title in Mumbai.

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For the record, Shivani’s injured knee again kept her out of the entire first half of 2017. And, recently a thigh strain meant missing the Scottish Open Grand Prix which followed the Nagpur Senior Nationals where she went down fighting to Sindhu in the semifinal.

“I won’t call it frustrating but it was really tough. In this context, winning the Tata Open title in Mumbai last week was very important for this is the first international title after my comeback from injury-breaks,” says Shivani, the St. Ann’s College student preparing for the MBA exams.

“I was mentally down because of those injury breaks which you have to accept. For, being away from the court is more difficult than winning or losing matches on it. But, definitely, they were not frustrating as I knew it was all about mental toughness and once I start playing after the rehab programmes, things will fall in place,” says the confident youngster.

“I believe I have the strokes to regain my form at the higher levels even while there is a need to keep improving every aspect of the game for there is so much of competition now,” she says.

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Like many shuttlers, Shivani is hoping for a good showing (playing for North Eastern Warriors) in the high-profile Premier Badminton League next month and also in couple of Grand Prix and Super Series to get the momentum going.

Shivani acknowledges sparring with the likes of Saina Nehwal and Sindhu at the Gopi Academy and also sharing a few thoughts with the two friendly superstars does help her a long way. “My immediate target is to break into the top 50 by performing well in the major events,” she concluded.