Hyderabad: Even as all eyes were on big guns like Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, Ashwini Ponnappa-Sikki Reddy, it was the unheralded Hyderabad men’s doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnu Vardhan Panjala that stole the limelight in the recently concluded Orleans Masters (BWF Tour Super 100) in France.
Playing for the first time as a pair in an international tournament, 21-year-old Krishna Prasad and 20-year-old Vishnu Vardhan ruffled a few feathers before losing in the final to England’s pair of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy By 21-19, 14-21, 19-21 in tough three games.
This new Hyderabad duo announced their arrival to the big stage with an energetic and powerful show that could bring cheers to the Indian badminton. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have been in the news for their phenomenal rise in world badminton with some stunning performances in the last two years. This new pair of Prasad and Vishnu Vardhan has raised hopes of second good combination after making an immediate impact in their first international tournament.
Starting as qualifiers before being put into main draw and having a BWF ranking of 216, Prasad and Vishnu Vardhan cruised into the final with some eye-catching performances. This show would definitely boost their confidence in a huge way for the next international tournaments.
Prasad said the Orleans show gave them the belief that they are ready for international challenges. ”We jelled well and stay focused throughout the tournament. The final was very close,’’ he said. Vishnu Vardhan echoed his partner’s feeling. “It was our first international tournament and I think we made a strong start. It was all about staying confident.’’
Prasad, the Kakinada-born shuttler whose father too played Universities badminton, said he was initially a singles player before coach Pullela Gopichand suggested him to take doubles five years ago. “I initially partnered with Satwik. We played in lot of matches, particularly in junior matches, before he took Chirag as his new partner.’’
Prasad played with Dhruv Kapila in junior world championship as No,2 pair but they lost in the quarterfinals. The duo won the gold in men’s doubles in South Asian Championship too.
In recent times Prasad got Vishnu as his new partner and they seem to strike a right chord. “We have started off confidently. Vishnu is strong at the back while I play at the net.’’
According to Prasad, the new Denmark coach Mathias Boe has been of great help. “His inputs have been very useful. The camp and our practice matches with Satwik and Chirag has helped us in improving our game. We are now hovering around 200 and we want break into top 50 by year end. We are aiming at 2024 Olympics,’’ said Prasad, who too benefited from Korean doubles player Lee Wong Dae in PBL matches.
A consistent performer in juniors, Vishnu Vardhan was also singles player before Gopichand asked him to concentrate in doubles more. “We like to be aggressive. It is all about minimizing mistakes on the court. Coach Boe simply advised to play a simple game. We are focusing on speed, defence and power. The start is good and we look to make a steady progress in future.’’
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