While it is pure delight to watch Jwala Gutta and Saina Nehwal, who both grew up in Hyderabad, make India proud on court, it pains to see them snipe at each other pretty often. There is a friction that refuses to smoothen out.
Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, Adam Gilchrist and Michael Slater, John Terry and Wayne Bridge have all had differences for various reasons. Same goes with Jwala and Saina. The recent spat erupted after Jwala slammed Saina for disagreeing with Indonesian great Taufik Hidayat's opinion on the IBL.
"No, it is not that I want to start arguments. Saina was wrong," says Jwala, as she gets her post-practice stretching done at the Kanteerava indoor stadium, before asserting, "Especially, since it was about a fellow player who is a legend in his country. How can she later say she did not mean it."
However, the latest upheaval in the duo's relationship is just a glimpse of a strain of difference that runs deep. While Jwala has been training with SM Arif, Saina works with national coach Pullela Gopichand. Earlier, Jwala had alleged Saina's alliance with Gopichand as one of the reasons for the latter enjoying the limelight.
"What I have done for doubles in the country no one has. But I don't know, there is no appreciation from those who matter. Why the bias? Why does the IBL not have women's doubles? I have just wanted fair treatment that allows me to play my game," says Jwala.
And for Jwala, just being a doubles player is not a good enough reason for the poor treatment. "In India, people know famous players. They know Saina, Jwala and Ashwini as well. People app-roach me for photographs and autographs because they know I play well. I have nothing to prove to anyone."