Badminton in 2019: Sindhu, Sai Praneeth serve up memorable moments

Lakshya Sen and Satwik-Chirag combination provide the silver lining in an otherwise clouded firmament

Published - December 30, 2019 10:10 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Historic moment: P.V. Sindhu becomes the first Indian to win a World badminton championship gold.

Historic moment: P.V. Sindhu becomes the first Indian to win a World badminton championship gold.

P.V. Sindhu scripted one of the greatest moments in India’s sporting history when she clinched a historic World badminton championship women’s gold in Basel this August.

And, in the same edition, B. Sai Praneeth became only the second men’s player from India to win a medal (bronze) after the legendary Prakash Padukone.


But, other than these two memorable performances that served a reminder of India’s growing stature in world badminton, it has been a year of inconsistent performances by the elite group.

The lead shuttlers disappointed, including 24-year-old Sindhu who failed to win more titles as was expected of her after the World title.

And, 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal had nothing to show, plagued as she was by injuries and indifferent form.

Except at the Indonesia Masters, the only one she won of the 16 tournaments she took part this year, the 29-year-old was never the threat she was not long ago.

In men’s singles, K. Srikanth had an almost forgetable year — no match to the peak he attained two years ago when he won four Super Series and became the World No. 1. Except the India Open final appearance, there was nothing much to rave about as injury-breaks took a heavy toll.

H.S. Prannoy and Sameer Verma also disappointed, with the former having a tough time dealing with injuries.

But, there was some cheer from young talent Lakshya Sen and Sourabh Verma (Vietnam and Hyderabad Open winner).

Lakshya started off the year at World No. 109 and finished off at No. 32 by making the final of the Polish Open besides winning the Belgian International, Dutch Open Super 1000, the SaarLorLux Super 100, Scottish Open and the Bangladesh International Challenge.

Clearly, the surprise packet has been the men’s doubles combination of R. Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty, who broke into the World top 10 for the first time after their historic Thailand Open title-triumph, where they shocked World champions Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen of China.

But, they had to miss the World championships that followed because of an injury to Satwik.

And, later, barring the French Open final appearance, the duo failed to live up to expectations.

It was a sorry story for the women’s pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy who finished World No. 30 despite competing in 21 tournaments. The mixed doubles pairs of Pranav Jerry Chopra and Sikki too failed to make an impact.

Off-court issues

The year also saw eyebrows raised by off-csourt issues — like Malaysia’s Tan Kim Her and Korea’s Jim Ju Hyun (the latter credited for her contribution in Sindhu winning the Worlds) leaving the Gopi Chand Academy where the National camps are held.

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