The badminton stars from India have made their mark successfully at the world level in recent times. Many took steps forward in putting their names in the memories of the badminton faithful. On the other hand, some of them have unfortunately failed to live up to the big expectations and reputation that they made in the past few years.
The pair being referred to was once recognised as India’s golden pair in women’s badminton, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa. They were doing fine for most of the time but the second half of the year witnessed a sudden downward curve in their performances at every major tournament they participated in.
Reaching a career high and TOPS
The duo did not have such a great year when it comes to their performance on the court. However, they managed to put up some remarkable displays. India’s most successful women’s doubles shuttlers Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa gained in rankings by winning the Canada Open. The win resulted in the pair reaching their career best rankings at 13th in Women’s doubles in June this year.
The happiness turned awry for the duo as they were not included in the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme. Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa then requested to be taken under the scheme. The duo finally succeeded after a long drawn battle with impressive performances. The victory at Canada Open could also be taken as a factor for the inclusion of the duo.
Soon after their inclusion in the TOP scheme, the performances took a down turn. The last quarter of the year has been one of the worst phases in the playing career of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa.
The once known golden pair was consistently ousted from all major tournaments in the very first round in six of the seven tournaments since September. Another unfortunate thing that happened during their early exits was the lack of ability to win a single game during the early exits.
The pair only managed to win a game against the Chinese pairing of Yunlei Zhao and Qianxin Zhong in the Japan Open but they lost the remaining two games. While the only victory they registered was against Rawinda Prajongjai and Jongkonphan Kittiharakul of Thailand leading to their only exception in the French Open, where they made it to the second round before exiting at the hands of the Dutch pair Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek.
The margin of defeat and the duration of the game is also a major concern. The gap kept widening as the pair registered winning less than 40% of the total points they played in the last two Superseries appearances. And they have also struggled against time, losing most of their matches since September around the 30 minute mark.
Will Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa regain form in time for Rio Olympics?
This is a question that would be tormenting the minds of the fans, the coaches and the players themselves. Returning to good form in 2016 could help India’s cause in the Olympics and the golden pair would definitely not back down without a fight.
And the Syed Modi International Badminton Championships at home could well be a perfect place to kickstart the campaign in front of the home fans that is scheduled to take place late in January 2016.