The Indian duo of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa have decided to part ways for the second time in their career. The shuttlers, who had the most successful doubles partnership in Indian badminton, previously split in 2013. Gutta took a sabbatical following the London Olympics while Ponnappa partnered with Pradnya Gadre but the pair eventually partnered again at the French Open in October.
However, on Monday, Gutta was back on the court at Hyderabad's Gopichand Academy where the national camp was underway. Ashwini Ponnappa was also seen practising, but a couple of courts away.
When asked about the split of the 26th ranked pair in the world, Gutta said in an interview with ESPN that the break up is permanent, “I won't be playing anymore 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," added the 33-year-old shuttler.
The successful Indian pairing last featured in the Rio Olympics. Together, they have won a Commonwealth Games gold, bronze medals at the World Championships and Asian Games and two more bronze at the Uber Cup team championships.
Gutta will now play mixed doubles with Manu Attri, who featured in the men's doubles at the Rio Games. Ponnappa, on the other hand, will continue her women's doubles career, partnering with Sikki Reddy. Reddy is 23 years old and four years younger than Ponnappa.
When asked about their breakup and how she would adapt to her new situation, Ponnappa very promptly said, “Partnerships take time to develop. Jwala had tonnes of experience. She shouldered the responsibility really well. And then we just clicked. With Sikki, again I expect it will take a little time.”
Ponnappa and Reddy will play their first tournament together at The Scotland Open which will be held next month and the pair would be looking to qualify for the All England Super Series (in March) next year.
Gutta, meanwhile, hopes to return at the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold event at the end of the month but is more likely to make the Syed Modi GP Gold tournament in January next year.