Having reached only their second major semifinal, Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand Pullela aren’t reining in their expectations. “We’re going for the title,” said Pullela; that feat would help her emulate the title-winning accomplishment of her father in 2001.
The Indians, who caused a stir last year by making the semifinals after being promoted from the reserves list, haven’t matched that performance over the last 12 months, having fallen in the early rounds of nine of their last 10 HSBC BWF World Tour tournaments. Their best was a semifinal at the HYLO Open last November, and Pullela acknowledged that there was something about the All England that helped raise their game.
Today, in the quarterfinals of the YONEX All England 2023, the Indians looked very much a top pair as they dismantled Li Wen Mei/Liu Xuan Xuan, with Jolly being the standout player as she peppered the Chinese with big smashes that broke through their defences. Pullela held her end up pretty well, capitalising on all the openings that came her way.
“They were very clear about their tactics. One of them controlled the net and the other was smashing really hard. Our defence wasn’t good enough, and they could score a lot of points,” said Li Wen Mei.
The Indians sought to draw lessons from last year, when they’d gone in as rank outsiders. This time the preparation would be different, asserted Jolly.
“Last time the excitement was so high. We hadn’t even qualified, we were in the reserves list. We wanted to play the All England at least once. But this time we knew we’d get an entry for this tournament, and we’d prepared well. Last year we just couldn’t sleep as we were so excited. But this time feels normal.”
The world No.17 duo are just two wins away from achieving India’s biggest triumph in women’s doubles, and Pullela is confident that they can hold their own against the very best pairs.
“We’re confident that we’re as good as any of the top pairs, definitely,” said the soft-spoken Pullela. “We’re going to give our 100 per cent no matter what, and we’re going to keep fighting till the end. Let’s see what happens.”