New Delhi: Jwala Gutta and V Diju on Sunday became the first Indian mixed doubles pair to clinch a Grand Prix Gold title after pulling off a hard-fought win in the finals of the badminton tournament in Chinese Taipei.
The world number seven Indian pair prevailed 24-22, 21-18 over the Indonesian duo of Hendra Aprida Gunawan and Vita Marissa to achieve the historic feat in Taipei city.
In the first game, the Indian pair opened up a 15-9 but the Indonesian combo staged a comeback to reduce the gap to 15-14. But Jwala and Diju quickly got their act together and prevailed in long rallies to go one up.
The Indonesians started off well in the second game and were leading at 13-9 but this time it was turn Indians’ turn to claw back at make it 15-15.
Jwala and Diju then grabbed the lead and sealed the issue in their favour.
“It is a great feeling. I am extremely happy but to be honest, I still can’t believe that we have won. The feeling is yet to sink in. Our team has already left and we are all alone here,” Jwala told reporters after the match.
“May be after we go back home, we will realise that we have won,” added Jwala, who is turning 26 on September 7.
“It wasn’t an easy match. It was a quality match and there were long rallies and we didn’t give away any silly point. we had to work hard for it.”
Jwala-Diju had become the first Indian mixed doubles pair to reach the quarterfinal of the World Badminton Championship in Hyderabad earlier this month.
They had also won the Bitburger Open and Bulgarian Open last year.
Meanwhile, Badminton Association of India (BAI) President VK Verma said, “This is very good news for India. This is the first time that any doubles pair of India have won a grand Prix gold event.”
“They have been doing well and now with this win they have catapulted themselves to be one of the Commonwealth Games medal hopes for the country,” he added.
Verma said keeping next year’s Commonwealth Games in view, a number of super series tournaments have been lined up for the mixed doubles pair.
“They are shaping up well and yesterday we finalised a training programme for them and they would be sent for a number of super series tournaments for exposure,” he said.
National coach Pullela Gopichand hailed the win, terming it as a huge step forward for Indian badminton.
“It is a great win and a huge step ahead for Indian badminton. It is one of its kind and a first in doubles for India,” Gopichand said.
“We have never done so well in mixed events and now with the kind of performance and results that they have come up, I think they would start favourite in any world tournament, including next year’s Commonwealth Games,” he added.
Gopichand said there would a lot of expectations and pressure on the duo from now on but is confident that Jwala-Diju can deal with it.
“There would be pressure but they are quite experienced and Jwala has a good badminton brain on court. So I feel they can handle that. The age is on their side and I feel they can just move ahead from now onwards,” he said.