- 'People will be watching us now so we have to work really hard and be focused. We have kept the target to come into the top 30-20 in the world this year.'
Ecstatic after clinching a maiden Grand Prix title at the Brazil Open, the Indian mixed doubles pairing of N Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra have set their sights on winning a medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Indian duo, ranked World No. 65, prevailed 21-15, 21-16 over Canadian second seeds Toby Ng and Rachel Honderich in a 37-minute final on Sunday.
"No words to express and I'm so so happy. This title will boost my confidence and make me work harder for many more titles. Me and Jerry were performing very well. We beat world No. 10 in India Super Series and lost a close match to World No. 3 in Singapore Super Series," Sikki told PTI.
"But after that Jerry injured his shoulder so we didn't play for three months and after that this was the first tournament so this title will give us a lot of confidence to come back to the previous form and will motivate us a lot.
"People will be watching us now so we have to work really hard and be focused. We have kept the target to come into the top 30-20 in the world this year. We have only 4-5 tournaments left which is very important for us. So next year we will focus on super series tournaments and aim a medal in Commonwealth Games," she added.
Talking about the final match, Pranaav said: "It wasn't an easy match as we knew about Toby who was with us in the same team in PBL (Premier Badminton League) and we were aware that he is good so we had prepared ourself well before the match. Initially it was going equal till the first break at 11 and then after the break we could get a lead and maintain till the end."
Sikki had won five international challenger events last year, while Pranaav came close to winning his first Grand Prix Gold title when he and his men's doubles partner Akshay Dwalkar reached the finals at the Syed Modi tournament.
"I wanted to win that match and we were so close to it, obviously lot of disappointment for not being able to finish on the winning side but we were very happy with the way we played throughout the tournament and it surely gave us a lot of confidence to face the top pairs in tournaments," he said.
Asked how did they came together to play mixed doubles, Pranaav said: "It was the decision of our coach Tan who decided to pair us up as when he came I had been only playing men's doubles and he asked me to start playing mixed again and that it would be good to pair me with Sikki.
"When Tan became India coach only then we got to know what actual mixed doubles is, it is totally different from before. He only made this partnership and he taught us how to play professional mixed double. So we are in safe hands and we both just started 9 months back and we are already in top 50 in just 7 tournaments," stated Sikki.
Elaborating on Kim Tan Her's role, Pranaav said: "Tan has played a major role by getting in specific training for mixed doubles and making us learn the skills and tactics for mixed and he is the one who made this pair and also pushes us to work harder in the training and plan our tournaments accordingly."
"He works very hard and we are very thankful that we have got him, he motivates us a lot and makes us work very hard and when we cannot push he is the one who believes in us and pushes us," Sikki added.