Fresh from her recent Russian Open Grand Prix title, the 20-year-old G. Ruthvika Shivani is in the mood to train her guns for bigger laurels.

“Yes, the Russian title was my maiden Grand Prix and I will be taking it step by step targeting the Grand Prix Gold then the Super Series may be,” says a confident Shivani taking a break from preparations for the next major Bitburger Open in a couple of weeks from now.

“This win gave me lot of confidence and it is a very special performance being my first big singles title. Not easy to win the Grand Prix at such a young age. It is just the beginning. So, I would love to keep the momentum going,” she explained.

For someone who was one of the very few who got the better of P. V. Sindhu this year (in the South Asian Games women’s singles final) before the latter went on to win the 2016 Rio Olympics silver, Shivani is determined to keep improving every aspect of her game.

“We do discuss some general things and sharing her Rio experiences but not definitely about my game. For that, I have Gopi sir who is always there as a mentor and coach giving invaluable tips,” Shivani says about sharing the training schedule with Sindhu at Gopi Academy.

“Yes, Sindhu’s Olympics silver has made every one — players, officials and coaches at the Academy — to work even harder as there is a strong belief now that results can be achieved if one puts in the desired efforts. There is a definite sea-change in the attitude of the players and the coaches in the Academy now,” Shivani said.

“It has been a pretty satisfying year so far having won the SAG singles told, helping India win the Uber Cup bronze clinching a crucial women’s singles match there and now winning the Russian title. Definitely, I would love to finish off the season in style,” reminds the young shuttler on whom Gopi is pinning lot of hopes for bigger things to come from. “I don’t feel the pressure much as the focus is also on me now in women’s singles. One has to manage these things at this level. From my perspective, the intent is to be a different and better player with each tournament,” insists the young shuttler, who looks to her father Bhavani Prasad off the court to share her thoughts on the game and life in general.

The B.Com final year student at St. Ann’s College, who joined Gopi Academy four years ago, believes her strong points are her strokes, which are not packed with power, even as she confesses to shoring up her defence as well. “Yes, to win at the highest level, one has to be a complete player and the whole endeavour has been to achieve that,” says the BPCL player.

What exactly is the target now? “Quite frankly, I am aiming to break into the top 10 in the world and then chase my dream of an Olympics medal,” signs off a smiling Shivani.