Shivani - new face of Indian badminton

In an interview with Sportstar, Shivani said that she was a bit tense before the start of the crucial Uber Cup match but once she entered the court, she preferred to take it like any other game.

Shivani joined the Gopi Chand Academy four years ago.   -  K. V. S. Giri

At 19, she was the toast of Indian badminton fraternity. For, G. Ruthvika Shivani clinched the crucial women’s singles match against Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol (21-18, 21-16) and help India clinch a second bronze in the prestigious Uber Cup women’s team championship in Kunshan (China) last week.

“Yes, when I look back, it could well be the defining moment of my career. It is a big, big win given the circumstances and the huge responsibility thrust on me. And, I must thank Gopi sir (chief national coach P. Gopi Chand) for the immense faith he had in me,” said Shivani on arrival back home on Monday.

In an interview with Sportstar, Shivani said that she was a bit tense before the start of the match against the World No. 25 Thai girl but once she entered the court, she preferred to take it like any other game.

“There was pressure because it was a crucial match. But once, I entered the court, I just didn’t bother about the ranking of my opponent. Fortunately, every aspect of my game fell in place, especially all the strokes landed at the right place. I just played my natural game freely,” said the tall shuttler who first learnt the nuances of the sport under Prem Singh in Khammam.

Teammates’ reaction

The reaction of her teammates was amazing: “Honestly, they were all stunned. All of them were cheering for me chanting — fight, come on fight. That was a great motivation besides Gopi Sir’s pep talks,” said Shivani, who was actually playing her fourth match in this edition of Uber Cup with two wins and a loss.

“Quite honestly, these are the kind of wins which give you a lot of confidence. For you tend to feel that little bit more confident next time you play. Yes, I cannot be complacent as I am in the process of a huge learning curve,” Shivani said.

“Certainly, now I am gunning to break into the top 40 in singles by trying to correct flaws, if any. The way to reach that is to keep improving,” said the BPCL staffer.

Shivani said she became a better player after joining the Gopi Chand Academy four years ago.

“The kind of professional training with focus not just on the game but other key areas like strengthening, stamina and the intensity in the whole programme is something every badminton player dreams to undergo. It is of a different level and I must say that I have become a more successful player in the seniors’ category after Gopi Sir’s training,” she said.

Shivani didn’t complain about the lack of hype around her career despite winning the senior national title last year and the South Asian Games women’s singles gold defeating the formidable P.V. Sindhu early this year.

“I look at it this way. Once you score big wins which merit the attention of the nation, automatically you will get your due. So, this was not an issue at all for me. I knew if I start winning the big matches, I will be talked about,” signed off Shivani, who is a huge fan of former national champion Aparna Popat for she feels that her game is similar to the former shuttler.