The Indian mixed doubles pair of N. Sikki Reddy and Rohan Kapoor lived up to the billing and continued their winning ways by clinching the title in the Victor Denmark Masters Badminton Championship.
For the 29-year-old Sikki, a veteran in the badminton circuit, athleticism and perseverance is her new mantra as the shuttler’s foray into the mixed doubles category along with the 25-year-old Rohan has yielded rich results.
“It’s a nice feeling to win tournaments and to clinch gold is amazing. We have put in a lot of effort and I am happy with the way we are progressing. Having said that we have a long way to go and our next target is to do well in the upcoming World Championships which will happen in August,” Sikki told Sportstar from Denmark.
The win in Denmark wasn’t a flash in the pan. The mixed doubles pair won gold in Maldives Open and Raipur International followed by a bronze in Vietnam Open. The duo then went on to win the silver in Slovenia and then bagged the yellow metal in the Denmark Open.
En route to France to participate in the Nantes International Challenge scheduled to be held from June 15-18, Sikki is ecstatic that their hard work has translated into a gold medal after a heartbreaking loss in Slovenia.
The win was all the more special as the Indian pair defeated Jesper Toft and Clara Graversen in the semifinal to advance into the final after losing to the Denmark pair in the final in Slovenia.
“It was a good challenge and to beat them (Toft & Graversen) in the semis boosted our confidence. We have kept some targets for this year and hopefully we achieve those. We have drawn up specific goals and so far we have been able to tick almost all boxes. Preparation wise we are doing well,” the Hyderabad-based shuttler said.
-Move to Mixed Doubles-
Sikki’s successful partnership with her doubles partner Ashwini Ponnappa is well documented. Playing together for almost five years, the duo has the distinction of winning the bronze medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and also made it to the quarterfinals of the All England Open. However, the pair ended their partnership after failing to produce the desired results.
“It didn’t work as planned with Ashwini is what I can say but we enjoyed the partnership. It was a mutual decision. It’s a new start with Rohan and we have gelled well as a unit and the progress has been good. Me being a left-hander, Rohan took a bit of time to adjust and understand. But now the tuning is perfect,” she said.
-The Road Ahead-
Ranked 35 in the mixed doubles, Sikki and Rohan have the Nantes challenge coming up in the next couple of days. A good show in France will boost their rankings and catapult the duo into the top 30 bracket.
“That’s the plan as we will be focusing on bigger tournaments such as super 500s, super 750s and super 1000s. As this is an Olympic qualification year, these tournaments are of utmost importance.”
Back home, training at the Pullela Gopi Chand Academy in the national camp, the mixed doubles pair is grateful to Gopi Chand for coaching them. However, they are in desperate need of sponsors.
“To get into the top 30, I and Rohan spent Rs 15 to 20 lakhs each to be here and we have exhausted all our savings. In Hyderabad, we have Gopi sir who is constantly guiding us and is providing all the support and we are grateful to him for taking care of us. It would be great if we can find some sponsors as we can’t afford to miss any major tournaments,” Sikki said.
The Olympic qualification period has already kicked off and the badminton World Championship, which will be held in Copenhagen is fast approaching. And for the country’s mixed doubles pair of Sikki and Rohan, the focus lies on podium finishes as the best 10 tournament performance points will be calculated for the Olympics qualification.
“To represent India in the Olympics is always a dream. And we have set goals and are working hard to make that dream come true. For now, we want to continue the winning momentum and do well in Nantes,” she said.
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