Jwala Gutta took the flight to Saarbrucken, Germany late last month for the five-week European circuit with a promise to prove a point to her detractors and also put to rest the demons of doubt in her mind.
The 25-year-old doubles specialist had been playing on the circuit for quite some time without any big result to show. But on Sunday, the southpaw became the first Indian shuttler to do a double in a Grand Prix-level tournament, winning the mixed doubles and women's doubles crown in the Bulgaria Open in Sofia.
This was also the third Grand Prix title in two weeks for Jwala, who along with Diju, had also bagged the Bitburger Open mixed doubles crown.
The triumph is heartening since India have never been considered a powerhouse in world badminton and their lack of doubles prowess has always been the reason for their failure in team championships.
On Sunday, Jwala and Diju opened India's account with a 15-21, 21-18, 21-19 win over fifth-seed Fran Kurniawan and Shendy Irawati of Indonesia in 45 minutes. Jwala then came back to team up with her long time doubles partner Shruti Kurien to upset second seed Irawati and Meiliana Jauhari 21-11, 21-19 in just under half and hour.
"I always knew that we had the potential to come up with good results but somehow both in doubles and mixed doubles we were falling short somewhere. But these title triumphs should put an end to all the criticism and also up our confidence," she told HT over phone.
"I was a bit tense going into the final day as I wanted both the titles. Both my partners deserved the crowns and I am happy we made it," she added.
Jwala and Shruti, ranked 26th in the world, had been criticised for the lack of work ethics and had opted to train on their own instead of joining the national camp, as they were not comfortable there. The seven-time national champions are even now playing at their own cost. "I guess the presence of our coach (S. M. Arif) made a huge difference here," Jwala said when asked what different approach they had taken on this tour.
Though the detractors could still argue that many top pairs kept away from the tournament, but the taste of success could not be diluted as Jwala and Shruti upset both the top two seeds en-route the title, while Jwala and Diju, ranked 55th in the world, were unseeded in the tournament.