Name: Ruthvika Shivani Gadde
Category: Women's singles
Past Commonwealth Games performance: Maiden appearance
Best performance: 2016 Russian Open GPG winner
When Ruthvika Shivani Gadde defeated former World No 2 PV Sindhu to clinch the 2016 South Asian Games gold before upsetting World No 25 Nitchaon Jindapol in China to bag the bronze medal at the Uber Cup in the same year, Indian badminton sensed the early days of another superstar in women’s singles badminton after Saina Nehwal and Sindhu.
Unfortunately, the timing of her injuries forced Gadde to take a step back just when she looked set to exceed expectations. Illness or injuries have always obstructed her progress. Not to forget, just days after winning the 2015 Nationals, the then 18-year-old was diagnosed with hepatitis that kept her out for the next three months.
"My badminton career so far is surrounded by stories about my injuries whenever I win something," the 21-year-old shuttler told Firstpost back in December.
Gadde picked up the racquet quite early. At just five, she started playing with her father and his friends at Sequel club in Khammam. Looking at his daughter’s interest towards playing badminton, Gadde’s father contacted a local academy in 2004 and gave the shuttler the license to continue playing the sport.
Within a year, she began to flourish at the U-10 tournaments and despite being a newbie, she wore down opponents with ease. After joining SAI Andhra Pradesh, the teenager won the Nationals in sub-junior and junior categories before joining forces with current national coach Pullela Gopichand.
At the 2014 Tata Open, the Hyderabad-born shuttler where she defeated Arundhati Pantawane 19–21, 21–18, 21–14 to claim her first senior international title. Gadde had just started to churn good results. In 2015, she continued her good run by putting her hands on the Bulgarian Open and the Bangladesh Open. The attacking shuttler emerged triumphant at the 2016 Russian Open, beating Evgeniya Kosetskaya 21-10, 21-13 in a 26-minute contest. This allowed Gadde to clinch her career-best spot of 49 in the BWF rankings.
After clinching gold in South Asian Games, Gadde hovered around the circuit as she couldn’t put in notable performances due to multiple injuries.
However, Gadde almost sent Sindhu packing on her comeback during the semi-finals of the 2017 Nationals but the Olympic silver medallist proved too good for the youngster.
At last year’s Tata Open, the 21-year-old was seen wearing a knee brace on her left leg throughout both the tournaments but she later revealed that it was just a 'precaution'. Despite not being at her best, she went on to win her second Tata Open title.
Gadde earned the plaudits from the badminton fandom when she came roaring back from a 16-21, 4-7 deficit to snatch an improbable 16-21, 21-16, 21-13 win over the feisty World No 9 Yeung Sum Yee. The result gave India a crucial 3-2 win over Hong Kong at the Badminton Asia Team Championships.
Gadde could be stepping on the court in less than 24 hours in her debut appearance at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. The injury-prone shuttler has worked on her technique and on-court movements to stay away from picking up yet another knock. We are looking at arguably one of the underdogs of the tournaments as it would be foolish to rule a fit Gadde out after what she has achieved in the past.
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Updated Date: Apr 04, 2018 16:02:11 IST