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Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa part ways, end doubles partnership

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Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, India’s Commonwealth Games gold medallist doubles pair in badminton have ended their on-court partnership.

Gutta on Tuesday said that the parting was a mutual decision.

Gutta and Ponnappa had bagged bronze medals at the Asian Games and World Championships in addition to many other titles. Following the split, Gutta announced that she will no longer feature in women’s doubles. Ponnappa, meanwhile, will partner Sikki Reddy.

“I won’t be playing any more with Ashwini. I won’t be playing women’s doubles either. I am not at the stage of my career where I want to groom a junior,” said Gutta in an interview to ESPN.

“Ashwini and I have had many good times and I would like to keep it like that,” added Gutta.

Gutta and Ponnappa last played together during the Rio Olympics 2016.

“I realised that Ashwini and I weren’t growing as a pair. I felt that we were stagnating. Whenever I expected a lot, the results were not coming. So I thought, ‘why don’t I let her play with someone else?’ It was a very difficult decision to make, but one that had to be made,” Gutta said.

While the Hyderabadi shuttler has bowed out from the women’s doubles, she will concentrate on mixed doubles where she will play alongside Manu Attri.

“I kind of missed playing mixed doubles. I’ve enjoyed my phase of playing women’s doubles. So why don’t I play mixed doubles again. I can develop a new facet of my game,” Gutta said.

Ponnappa meanwhile said that she and her new partner will take time as they aim to form a commendable partnership.

“Partnerships take time to develop. Jwala had tons of experience. She shouldered the responsibility really well. And then we just clicked. With Sikki again I expect it will take a little time,” she said.

“Sikki likes to move as well, so it won’t just be at the back of the court any more (for me). We are still learning how to combine though,” Ponnappa added.

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