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INDIA’S LANDMARK SINGLES VICTORIES
The Times of India 2013/08/10
All England title 1980; Winner World Cup 1981; Commonwealth Games singles gold 1978; Bronze at World Championships 1983
Commonwealth Games singles gold 1982; Bronze at Delhi Asian Games
All England title 2001
Runner-up World Junior Championship 1996; French Open 1998; Silver at Commonwealth Games 1998
Bronze at London Olympics 2012; Gold at Commonwealth Games 2010; 17 major international titles
The Times of India, Aug 20 2016
Saina's trademark clam on court helps her deal with pesky opponents who try to rattle her with body smashes and stares. Sindhu, on her part, doesn't like body smashes and would get easily rattled and concede points. It's because of this that she tended to lose many matches from winning positions.
Saina, a proven champion, interestingly does not believe she is a natural stroke maker. She has herself admitted on a number of occasions that she lacked natural talent compared to some other players. Saina relies more on hard work and training and needs at least six to eight weeks to peak before a tournament.
Bronze at Commonwealth Games 2010
Bronze at World Badminton Championships, China, 2013
The Times of India, Aug 20 2016
PV Sindhu has seized the opportunity to unleash her electric prowess as a shuttler on the greatest stage of all, eventually becoming the first female sportsperson to win a silver for India.
Sindhu has numerous chinks in her defence but in 2016, she has worked hard on reducing the chinks. She looks solid in defence now and has sur prised many with her retrieving ability . Saina likes faster court conditions -when the shuttle is moving fast between the courts it will be advantage Saina. Sindhu prefers the opposite, she likes if the shuttle is slow. That is why in Asian conditions, where they use air conditioners, the shuttle moves well and Saina performs better. In Brazil, however, the shuttle moved slower and Sindhu was on a roll.
At the Olympics 2016, Sindhu has been a revelation. She was cool like a cucumber even in the gold medal match and hardly ever seemed annoyed throughout her memorable campaign.
Standing tall at 5'11“, Sindhu likes to pack her shots with a lot of power. Saina, however, is a rally player who wears down the opponent and pounces on the mistakes of others.
Dec 27 2014
UNPRECEDENTED LEAP IN BADMINTON
Amit Kumar Das
It turned out to be a watershed year for Indian badminton as the home shuttlers clinched no less than eight individual titles and also broke new grounds in team championships, making India a dominant force at the international stage Saina Nehwal and K. Srikanth clinching titles at China Super Series Premier and P.V. Sindhu bagging five bronze, including a World Championship medal, besides the historic bronze medals at Uber Cup and Asian Games, were the highlights of the year in which Indian badminton achieved unprecedented success at the global platform. If Saina led the resurgence of Indian badminton in the last few years, the year also saw the emergence of younger stars, who made it a terrific season with the help of their stupen dous performance.
While Saina scooped three titles, Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, Aravind Bhat, Sindhu and H.S. Prannoy -all laid their hands on the crown at least once in the year gone by.In fact, Saurabh Verma and P.C. Thulasi also won titles in the International challenge category.
It was yet again Saina who set things in motion with a victory at the India Grand Prix Gold, which finally broke her long title drought. The Indian ace added two more titles to her kitty, clinching the Australia Super Series at Sydney in June and China Super Series Premier at Fuzhou in November.
While Saina blew hot and cold, teen sensation Sindhu continued to make big strides in world badminton with her performance, which saw her reach the finals of India Grand Prix Gold first in Lucknow and then winning the bronze at the Asian Badminton Championship in Gimcheon.
In fact, Indian women's doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Poppanna also made their presence felt by clinching the bronze in the same tournament in April.
Next month, India hosted the prestigious Thomas and Uber Cup Finals for the first time and Saina and Sindhu ensured that it turned out to be a memorable one as they shepherded the women's team to a historic bronze.
Sindhu had a golden chance of winning the Commonwealth Games women's singles title in July but the Indian had to settle for a bronze when she lost to Michelle Li of Canada.
2014: Shuttlers: Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu
The Times of India, Dec 31 2014
The fabulous feats of Indian shuttlers made 2014 the breakout year for Indian badminton. But no one could match the achievement of Kidambi Srikanth. Defying all predictions, the 21-year-old won the China Open Super Series, beating multiple World and Olympic champion Lin Dan in the final. He finished the year ranked No. 4 in the world. After a barren 2013, Saina Nehwal made an impressive comeback this year. She thrashed World Champion Carolina Marin of Spain to clinch the Australian Super Series and then grabbed the China Open, beating the Chinese on way to the final. PV Sindhu bagged bronze in Glasgow and helped the Indian team claim its first-ever Asiad and Uber Cup bronze.
Garaga, Rankireddy win Badminton Asia Championships boys doubles
The Times of India, October 12, 2015
The budding doubles duo of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy clinched boys doubles gold in the Badminton Asia Championships in Kudus, Indonesia Jayaram outclassed Raul Must of Indonesia in straight games 21-12, 21-18. Under-17 boys Krishna and Satwik, who train at the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy , trounced Jun Hau Leong and Fong Hau Sim of Malaysia 21-16, 21-15 in straight games. Such was the domina tion of these Hyderabadi shuttlers that they did not even lose a single game in the entire tournament. Not only that, they were not even forced to save a game point. In 2014, KrishnaSatwik claimed bronze at this Continental meet.
October 2015: Srikanth climbs to fifth in rankings; Saina is second
The Times of India, Oct 30 2015
Srikanth climbs to fifth in rankings; Saina is second
Top Indian male shutler Kidambi Srikanth climbed up place to fifth, while Saina Nehwal remained static on No. 2 in the atest Badminton World Federa ion (BWF) rankings released on Thursday . Srikanth gained a spot n the men's singles ranking.
Manu-Sumeeth bag GP title in Mexico
The Times of India Dec 22 2015
Ending a five-year drought, the fast rising doubles combination of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy claimed their maiden Grand Prix crown with a 22-20, 21-18 victory over BodinIssara and NipitphonPuangpuapech of Thailand in the Mexico Open final on Sunday . The duo, who trains at the Pullela Gopichand Academy here, faced a stiff resistance in the first game as the Thais saved four game points from 1620 before the Indians claimed it. In the second, the Indians got off to a brisk start and maintained a healthy lead over their rivals right throughout. After Olympians Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas won the Bitburger Open in 2010, this is the best ever performance by an Indian men's doubles team. “This is a great win for both of us.We've worked really hard and this is the result of our hard work. We would like to thank our coach Pullela Gopichand, doubles coach Kim Tan Her and BAI officials for supporting us. Many thanks to our parents, it's because of their prayers and blessings we are here,“ Manu told TOI from Mexico City on Monday . The players, who have been consistent this year, were close to clinching their first GP title twice before. They missed out winning the titles in US Grand Prix in June and Dutch Open in October despite dishing out some inspired performances in the initial rounds. “It turned out to be a good year for us. And finishing off with a title is amazing. We started confidently . It was a bit tricky in the final, it was all about speed and tactics,“Sumeeth said.
2016: Asia Championship
The Times of India, Feb 21 2016
Shuttlers lose in Asia C'ship semis
HS Prannoy , saviour of the hosts for the last two days, could not repeat the magic as his team bowed out of the tie much before his arrival, losing 1-3 to Indonesia in the semifinals of the Badminton Asia Team Championships at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium. With this loss Indian men bagged the bronze medal, their first in last three decades.
Though Kidambi Srikanth gave a solid start to his team, the hosts lost the next three ties and crashed out of the tournament. After winning the first game without much difficulty against in form Tommy Sugiarto, Srikanth was unlucky to lose the closely-fought second game. However, the top ranked Indian shifted gears in the decider and played an attacking game to oust Tommy 21-14, 23-25, 21-9.
Doubles pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy proved no match for Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-11, 2110. In the second singles, world No.25 Ajay Jayaram tried hard before going down to Anthony Ginting 15-21, 20-22.
2016: Uber Cup
The Times of India, May 20, 2016
Quarterfinals When the top gun, misfired youngster RuthvikaShivani came to the rescue with a stupendous display to assure her team of a bronze with a 3-1 victory against Thailand in the Uber Cup quarterfinals on Thursday.
This will be only the second medal for India at this prestigious team event. Indian women had won bronze at the last edition.
For a long time, Saina Nehwal had carried Indian hopes. But the off-colour Hyderabadi faltered on the day to give India a poor start. PV Sindhu, however, stepped up and put the campaign back on rails with a dominant 21-18, 21-7 victory against Busanan Ongbumrungphan.
JwalaGutta and Ashwini Ponnappa made it 2-1for with a 21-19, 21-12 win against PuttitaSupajirakul and SapsireeTaerattanachai.
Ruthvika then proved her mettle. No one expected her to get past a tough opponent like NitchaonJindapol, the world No.25 who has been giving top shuttlers a tough time. She had even defeated PV Sindhu in January this year.Ruthvika came up with a stunning show and registered a 21-18, 21-16 victory . Leading 20-10, Ruthvika conceded eight points before winning the first game at 21-18.
A watershed year
2017 Was A Watershed Year For Indian Badminton As Players Broke New Ground, Writes M Ratnakar
If Saina Nehwal’s hat-trick of titles in 2010 was the catalyst which propelled Indian badminton to a different plane, 2017 has proved to be a watershed year for the sport as Kidambi Srikanth led the boys’ victory parade with four Super Series titles in a calendar year. Since 2010, the sport has witnessed a spiralling success rate every year. The Olympic medal came in 2012 with Saina’s bronze and a podium finish at the World Championships became a regular feature thereafter.
Sindhu’s Olympic silver at the 2016 Olympic Games catapulted the game to new heights of popularity.
However, 2017 has seen greater performances from the Indian shuttlers as 13 major titles have been won by seven different players, apart from PV Sindhu’s silver and Saina’s bronze at the World Championships. Sindhu’s one hour 50-minute marathon against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the Worlds final will go down in history as an epic encounter.
Never in the past had so many Indian players figured among the winners’ circle. Until 2017, the success stories have been confined to Saina, Sindhu and Srikanth but this year ‘so-called fringe players’ like SAI Praneeth, Sameer Verma, HS Prannoy and even doubles pair of Pranaav Chopra and Sikki Reddy have ensured that the Indian flag flutters with pride at various international events. For a change the boys have leapt past the girls and cornered more glory in 2017. Sindhu won two Super Series titles —India Open and Korea Open — and capped the year with a silver at the year-end Finals in Dubai.
But the year belonged to Srikanth and Co, who have virtually dominated the men’s singles with élan. The Indian boys were everywhere in 2017, winning titles, stunning champions and dominating the men’s singles category. Sameer Verma started it by trumping SAI Praneeth at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold final in January. Thereafter, SAI Praneeth took charge by pocketing his first Super Series at the Singapore Open in April. Interestingly, here too, Praneeth’s opponent was none other than Srikanth.
Praneeth also clinched the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold in June. A fortnight later Srikanth triumphed in the Indonesia Open, the richest Premier event of the year. The 24-year-old went on to clinch back-toback titles, a first in his career, by emerging victorious at the Australian Open Super Series the very next week.
While Indian fans were busy celebrating the unexpected success of their boys, experts have observed a fascinating trend behind these stupendous performances. The Hyderabad boys have been assisting each other in the victories as if they have learnt the art of ‘hunting in packs’.
At the Indonesian Open, HS Prannoy had stunned Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei and Olympic champion Chen Long to clear the path for his training partner Srikanth. Later, Prannoy said that he took tips from seasoned campaigner Parupalli Kashyap on how to beat the Chinese superstar. Prannoy lost to Kazumasa Sakai in the semifinals but passed on some key information to Srikanth, who defeated the Japanese shuttler in the final.
Even at the Denmark Open in October, Prannoy helped Srikanth by ousting Lee Chong Wei in the second round itself. With easier opponents to negotiate at the latter stages, Srikanth claimed his third Super Series title by defeating Korean veteran Lee Hyun Il in the final. The next week at the French Open, Prannoy ousted Lee Hyun in the first round before going down to Srikanth in a keenly-contested semifinal. By claiming top honours in Paris, Srikanth became the fifth shuttler in badminton history to win four Super Series titles in a calendar year. Incidentally, these were also Srikanth’s second back-to-back titles.
It is no secret that the dexterous efforts of Pullela Gopichand is behind their success and the newfound vigour. All these players hail from his academy and have been with him since their childhood.
About five years back, when Saina and Sindhu were making all the headlines, Gopichand had predicted that the boys too will replicate the girls’ success stories soon. But very few took him seriously at that time. However, once Srikanth burst on the scene with a sensational mauling of Lin Dan in the China Open finals in 2014, people began to notice that the boys were coming to the party.
The coach, who is building Indian badminton brick-by-brick, has immense faith in the abilities of his players and is always confident about breaching the difficult barriers. “In my playing days many used to tell us that we can never reach the level of the Chinese. But I always believed that if we have the facilities in place we can achieve a lot. I am only putting a system in place and I am not surprised with these results,” Gopichand said.
Gopichand changed the landscape of badminton but the Dronacharya awardee is yearning for more. He has a few budding shuttlers who are aspiring to follow the footsteps of their illustrious seniors.
But despite these fabulous feats, the bigger trophies like Olympic gold, World Championships crown and All England are missing from the cupboard.The only way the forthcoming years can beat the success of 2017 is if the shuttlers bring these elusive trophies home.
The main stars
It wasn’t just all about Srikanth and Sindhu. Prannoy and Praneeth made heads turn too
Popularising the whiplash smash and reinventing the aggressive style of badminton, Kidambi Srikanth made 2017 the best ever for Indian men. Of the seven Super Series titles India won, Srikanth bagged four. In the first quarter of the year, Srikanth did not do much as was he was recovering from his injuries. But in April he struck form. He lost to Sai Praneeth in the Singapore Super Series final and went on to win back-to-back Super Series titles in Indonesia and Australia. Though he had a disappointing World Championships, he was on a roll in October, once again claiming back-to-back titles in Denmark and France. With these amazing triumphs, Srikanth became only the fifth shuttler in the world to wear four Super Series crowns in a calendar year.
Even though she did not win many titles, Saina Nehwal still made her presence felt in 2017. The seasoned campaigner won only one title — the Malaysia Masters — in the last 12 months apart from the bronze at the Worlds, her second successive medal at BWF’s biggest event. However, her crowning glory was the straight-game victory over PV Sindhu in the National Championship final. The ace shuttler, who returned to the Gopichand camp in August after a three-year hiatus, will be keen to win a few more titles with the help of the Dronacharya awardee.
The supremely talented shuttler lived up to the expectations with two major titles. He started the year by reaching the final of the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold tournament. But the biggest victory of his career came in April when he beat title favourite Srikanth in the final to win the Singapore Open Super Series. He also won the Thailand Grand Prix Gold title in June.
If there was one shuttler who lady luck did not oblige this year, it has to be HS Prannoy. The Kerala shuttler, who is regarded as one of the most deadliest attackers on the circuit, could have won at least two Super Series titles this year. He beat the best in the world, but fortune deserted him at crucial moments. Though he stunned Olympic champ Chen Long and Malaysian great World No.1 Lee Chong Wei, he failed to convert such major victories into titles. However, he helped his friend Srikanth by mowing down these tough nuts. He ended the year with a dominant victory against Srikanth in the National badminton final.
June: The rise of Srikanth, Praneeth, Prannoy
Having played second fiddle to Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu for long, India's male shuttlers, led by K Srikanth, have suddenly created big buzz with several stunning international triumphs recently. TOI looks at the phenomenon...
`Hunting in packs' is the new mantra in Indian men's badminton. The exploits of Kidambi Srikanth, Sai Praneeth and HS Prannoy have catapulted Indian badminton to a new high as a group of Indian men have begun dominating men's singles as never before. Led by Srikanth, they have achieved a rare Super Series hat-trick besides notching up title wins in four of the last five big international tournaments.While Srikanth won the Indonesia and Australia Open Super Series titles, Sai bagged the Singapore Super Series and Thailand Grand Prix Gold crowns.
The support cast too has played a key role in the number of titles won by the Indians. Prannoy and Parupalli Kashyap may not have won titles but they had helped their friends by clear ing their path. In Jakarta, Prannoy knocked out the legendary Lee Chong Wei and Olympic champion Chen Long, thereby letting Srikanth negotiate an easier opponent in the final.
In Australia, Kashyap shut out Indonesia Open finalist Kazumasa Sakai at the qualifying stage itself.
The sterling performance of the Indian boys in the last two months have made them one of the most feared gang of shuttlers in the world arena. Interestingly, most of them are in the 22-24 years age group, making them bright prospects for marquee international events which are coming up -like the Olympic and World Championships.
What makes the scenario even more heartening is that besides these four, there are other talented shuttlers like Ajay Jayaram, Sameer Verma and Sourabh Verma who have been keeping the Indian flag flying.
Undoubtedly, this is the best phase ever in men's singles for India. Earlier, success in this sphere was limited to Prakash Padukone (All England title in 1980) and Pullela Gopichand (All England title in 2001).
After the two major titles _ which were separated by more than two decades _ the best feats were Kashyap win ning the Commonwealth Games Gold and Srikanth clinching the China Open Super Series Premier in 2014. Srikanth added the Indian Open Super Series crown in 2015 while the likes of Jayaram and Sai Praneeth claimed Grand Prix Gold titles. But the major push came in last two months.
Gone are the days when Indians struggled to clear the qualifying stage and breaking into the top-50 was celebrated as a major feat. Our men are in the elite league now. It has taken years of hard work, sweat, sacrifice and a lot of planning to bring about this transformation. A lot of credit for this turn around has to go to National coach Gopichand.
As a player, he faced a series of difficulties, got injured often, found no proper system but still achieved success.Once his career ended, he was determined to build a system. “There was never a dearth of talent in our country .Even during my time we had extremely talented players like Chetan Anand, Anup Sridhar, Arvind Bhatt, Nikhil Kanetkar. But what I realised was that all were crafty but lacked fitness, strength, speed and endurance. To get these things we needed to create a group of people around a player. In our days we never had a proper coaching system, no concept of having a physio, nothing like that. These are the basic necessities and thankfully we have created them now,“ Gopichand said.
Gopichand also realised that the thought process of Indian shuttlers needed to change. “I always used to think different from others. In those days we were told to pick and play small tournaments, win some and improve the rankings. I thought it was wrong. So, I started making Saina (Nehwal) play in Super Series events. We need to believe in ourselves, think big and do what it requires to reach there,“ Gopi said.
Though Gopi achieved success with the girls _ Saina and PV Sindhu _ it took a while for him to replicate it in men's singles. “Success in women was achieved fast because I got two strong girls in Saina and Sindhu. But it took time for me to build that strength and fitness in men. Another area I succeeded in was converting the success at the junior level to senior stage. I also got an excellent support staff,“ Gopi said.
India have as many as six men in the top-35 of world rankings at present. It's a promising position and if the players keep improving, India can become a global power.
With the longevity of shuttlers increasing due to modern training methods, Srikanth & Co will be around for at least another five years during which time they can take Indian badminton to a higher plane. With talented youngsters like Lakshya Sen and Siril Verma waiting in the wings, the future seems to hold exciting prospects for India.
June: The male stars
KIDAMBI SRIKANTH (24, ranking 11)
The form man of world badminton right now, Srikanth has risen fast to become the poster boy of men's badminton in India. He is expected to be ranked around 5 in the world when the fresh list is announced on Thursday.
PARUPALLI KASHYAP (30, ranking 116)
He has been the guiding light to all the men's singles shuttlers. His victories at the international level, particularly the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold, gave confidence to others like Srikanth, Prannoy and Sai Praneeth. He was also the first Indian man to reach the Olympic quarterfinals. Kashyap has been fighting injuries in the last two years but is now back on court.
HS PRANNOY (24, ranking 21)
HS Prannoy, who trains at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad, has always been regarded as a very talented shuttler. His big break was the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold title last year.He also created a splash by stunning Olympic gold medallist Cheng Long and silver medallist Lee Chong Wei at the recently Indonesia Open.
AJAY JAYARAM (29, ranking 15)
Till recently, Ajay Jayaram was the top-ranked Indian men's singles shuttler. Unlucky to miss the London Olympics berth by a whisker, Jayaram won the Dutch Open Grand Prix Gold twice -2014 and 2015. He missed a Dutch hat-trick when he lost in the final last year. Jayaram, who trains under Tom John, also reached the finals of the Korea Open Super Series in 2015.
SAI PRANEETH (24, ranking 16)
His Singapore Open triumph made him only the second Indian after Srikanth to clinch a Super Series title. He made it two titles in a row by claiming the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold as well. The crafty player is expected to pose a major threat to the top shuttlers in the world.
SAMEER VERMA (22, ranking 32)
The younger of the Verma brothers, Sameer's best show so far was reaching the final of the Hong Kong Open Super Series in November 2016. The 22-year-old is a hard-working shuttler who defeated Sai Praneeth to win the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold title in January this year. His elder brother, Sourabh Verma, who is 24, is ranked 35th in the world and is yet another player to watch out for.
August: World Championship, Glasgow
In a first, two Indians finished on the podium. Sindhu -who had earlier won bronze medals at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships -won the silver and Saina a bronze.
September: Five Indian men in top-20
Five Indians find themselves in the top-20 of the BWF men's singles rankings with H S Prannoy being the biggest gainer after his quarterfinal showing at the Japan Open. Prannoy has jumped four places to be world no 15 while Kidambi Srikanth, who too lost in the quarterfinals in Japan, remains the highest-ranked Indian male player at eighth. Ajay Jayaram remains at the 20th spot while B Sai Praneeth too has not moved from his position of 17th. Sameer Verma has gained a couple of places to the 19th.
November: Sindhu, Srikanth both world’s No. 2
The rise and rise of the Indian shuttlers has been awe inspiring.
Four Super Series title triumphs catapulted Kidambi Srikanth to world No.2. It's a new high for Indian badminton as two shuttlers are currently ranked No.2 in the world, a feat accomplished for the first time.While PV Sindhu reached there a few weeks back, Srikanth joined her.
Until 2016, the script involved the success stories of Saina Nehwal and Sindhu. Saina's title-winning spree made it look difficult for others to emulate her till Sindhu started winning medals on a bigger stage. Inspired by the girls, the boys took charge in 2017 and collected more than half a dozen titles.
Srikanth may even become No.1 very soon.
The efforts of coach Pullela Gopichand are responsible for the badminton revolution in the country . But the Dronacharya insisted that the success story is a culmination of a lot of things. “It is a culmination of a lot of things. Each and everybody's contribution is very important. Be it the Sports Authority of India (SAI), government, sponsors, coaches and also senior players like Saina and Kashyap,“ Gopichand said.
Saina and Kashyap made others believe that success at highest level could be achieved.
November: Prannoy, Saina win national titles
Achievements, Men's singles, Women's singles, Men's doubles, Women's doubles, Mixed doubles, 2017
Women's singles final and Men's singles final, some facts, 2017
Back With Coach Gopi, Nehwal Claims Third National Title; Prannoy Shocks Srikanth For Maiden Crown
Form and rankings went for a toss as Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy stunned hot favourites PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth to emerge champions in the 82nd Senior National Badminton Championship.
The packed stadium with around ten thousand spectators at the Divisional Sports Complex witnessed some spectacular badminton from the country's premier shuttlers which kept them on the edge of their seats till the last point of the week-long tournament.
The dream summit clash between Saina and Sindhu lived up to expectations with both the players slugging it out for each point resulting in long and pulsating rallies.
Saina, seeded second, proved a point or two to her detractors by upsetting top seed Sindhu 21-17, 27-25 in 54 minutes to clinch her third title. The 27-year-old thus maintained her perfect record in the Nationals with three titles in as many appearances.
Incidentally , she marked her comeback to the Nationals after a gap of almost ten years with the crown. As a teenager, she had triumphed at Goa in 2008 where she had defended the title she had won for the first time at Patna in 2007.
Saina was fully fired up while taking on Sindhu as she made swift movements to jump to a comfortable lead in the first game. Besides excellent court coverage, the world No. 11 executed several bodyline smashes which Sindhu found too hot to handle. Sindhu reduced the deficit in the end but could not stop Saina pocketing the first game at 21-17.
Stunned by the reversal, Sindhu bounced back gallantly in the second game. Although the scores were al most equal at the start, Sindhu surged ahead by three points and looked set to restore the parity.
However, Saina was in no mood to let it go. She fought back like a true fighter and saved a couple of game points to stop Sindhu. Sindhu too was equally determined to take the match into the decider. After six deuces, Saina finally managed to convert her sixth match point.
At 26-25, both the players were engaged in another long rally , keeping the entire crowd breathless. After around twenty strokes, Sindhu fai led to return one of Saina's sharp half-shashes and hit the shuttle in the net as Saina punched the air in jubilation.
Saina thanked her support staff and coach Pullela Gopichand for the turnaround in her fortunes. “I am surprised with the way I played today .I moved well and picked Sindhu's difficult shots. It was a great match and I am glad that I could finish it off in two games. I would like to thank all the support staff and Gopi Sir for working hard on me in the last couple of months,“ an elated Saina told TOI af ter the final.
Earlier, the men's singles final bet ween Srikanth and Prannoy also saw a big upset. Second seeded Prannoy edged out top seed and world No. 2 Sri e kanth 21-15, 16-21, 21-7 in a battle which lasted 50 minutes. It was a special mo . ment for Prannoy as he had never won any National title in any age group.I Prannoy celebrated his first entry o into the final in style by overcoming e the stiff challenge from his regular practice partner. The Kerala youngs ter also avenged his defeat to Srikanth in the semifinal of the French Open Super Series a few days back.
Ashwini Ponnappa bagged a double crown by claiming women's doubles and mixed doubles titles. Top seeds Ashwini and N Sikki Reddy stopped the giant-killing run of unseeded Maharashtra pair of Sanyogita Ghorpade and Prajakta Sawant in the women's doubles final.
In the mixed doubles final, Ashwini teamed up with teenager Satiwik Sai Raj to annex the mixed doubles final. The new combination shocked top seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra-N Sikki Reddy 21-9, 20-22, 21-17.
November: China Open: loses singles quarterfinal
Defending champion PV Sindhu found Chinese teenager Fangjie Gao too hot to handle and bowed out of the China Open Super Series Premier badminton in Fuzhou on Friday.
Nineteen-year-old Gao shattered the hopes of Sindhu with a clinical 21-11, 21-10 win in a one-sided women’s singles quarterfinal. Throughout the 38-minute encounter, Sindhu never looked in control and was completely surprised by the qualifier ranked 89th in the world.
Aiming to defend the title, Sindhu’s bid was foiled by an inspired local girl, regarded as one of the most promising shuttlers in China after the era of three Wangs and Olympic champion Li Xuerui.
November: Lost in Hong kong Super Series
PV Sindhu's gallant fight ended in agony as she suffered a second successive loss to world no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei at the summit clash of the $400,000 Hong Kong Super Series.
Playing her fifth straight tournament, Sindhu, who had a 3-7 head-to-head record against Tai before the match, never lacked in fitness and fought throughout the match before going down 18-21 18-21 to the defending champion in a 44-minute women's singles final.
This is Sindhu's second loss in the four finals that she reached this season. She had lost to Japan's Nozomi Okuhara at the World Championship final, while clinched two titles at India and Korea this year. In the opening game which lasted 21 minutes, Tai moved to a 3-0 lead early on before Sindhu made a good judgement at the baseline to log the first points. However, Tai unleashed her wide repertoire of strokes and varied the pace well to lead 7 -2.
Sindhu then started to dominate the rallies by using her deep clears and drew the Taiwanese close to the net. She used her reach to catch the shuttle early and placed it in difficult positions to narrow the deficit to 6-7.
A deceptive net return gave Tai a point. The Taiwanese then produced a smash on the deep backhand corner of Sindhu and moved to 10-7. Sindhu unleashed a body smash to perfection before Tai's flat straight return bamboozled the Indian.
At the break, the Taiwan had a three point advantage.
After the breather ,Tai committed a couple of unforced errors at both the flanks, while Sindhu came up with a backhand return near the net to reduce the margin to 10-13 but Tai quickly recovered to extend her domination to 16-13.
Sindhu tried to anticipate her deceptive rival and put Tai in awkward positions a few times, but she hit long or at the net to allow the Taiwanese lead 18-14. A gritty Sindhu, however, kept breathing down her neck and soon clawed back at 18-18.
During the next rally, the string of the Sindhu's racquet broke and Tai unleashed a smash which left the Indian frustrated. Tai produced another smash on Sindhu backhand to move to game point. She then grabbed the opening game after winning a video referral when her shuttle landed on the line.
In the second game, Sindhu was left to deal with some indecision due to the sidewise drift which gave early advantage to Tai but the gritty Indian levelled the score at 4-4 with a superb return at her rival's forehand.
The duo moved to 7-7 before Tai hit wide and lost a referral too.
Sindhu produced a overhead backhand flick, a deceptive return at the forecourt and another smash to move to 10-7 before entering the lemon break with a two-point advantage when Tai found the net. However, Tai dominated the proceedings after the interval, despite a fighting Sindhu trying to snap at her heels.
The Indian lost a referral and then failed to retrieve a shot at the forecourt as Tai led 12-11.
At 13-12, Sindhu was not allowed a video referral by the line judge and after that the match slipped away from the Indian even as Tai produced a stroke on Sindhu's forehand to perfection. With the Indian failing to finish the rallies, it allowed Tai to lead 17-12.
Another weak return by Sindhu and Tai was leading 18-12. The Indian produced a cross court smash to break the rhythm, but she again hit long. Tai faltered at the net and then miscued a lift from the front court. She then hit long as Sindhu conjured up hopes of a turn around, moving to 16-19.
However, a long rally ensued which ended with Sindhu's lift going long and Tai earned the match point at 20-16. Sindhu saved two match points before a perfect drop shot from Tai sealed the title for the Chinese Taipei shuttler.
2017, Dec. rankings
Kidambi Srikanth improved a rung to be at the 4th position, while promising Indian shuttler Lakshya Sen entered the World top 100 after jumping 19 places to reach the 89th spot in the latest BWF ranking.HS Prannoy and B Sai Praneeth were static at the 10th place and 17th spots respectively. In women’s singles, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal retained their third and 10th places respectively.
The best players
The third Mahindra Scorpio Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) powered by All-Out, is India’s first and largest multi discipline people’s choice sports awards. TOISA is a platform created by the Times Group to recognise and reward Indian sporting talent and achievements on a global scale and will be held soon to honour the lion hearts who have done the country proud. Ahead of the 2018 TOISA to be held on February 26, here’s a recap of the how the cream of Indian badminton fared last year. For more details, you could also log on to www.toisa.in
KIDAMBI SRIKANTH (World No. 3 )
Building on the promise shown during his run to the quarterfinals of the men’s singles at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Srikanth made it large last year. He won four Superseries titles in 2017, the most ever by an Indian, and moved to No. 2 in the BWF men’s singles rankings. Srikanth’s first title was the Indonesia Open, where he beat Japan’s
PV SINDHU (World No. 3)
After claiming a breakthrough silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sindhu lived up to her billing as the queen of Indian badminton this year by winning two Superseries titles, a silver medal at the Badminton World Championships and another at the BWF World Superseries Finals. Her first Superseries win came in April, when she beat Olympic champion Carolina Marin 21-19, 21-16 to win the India Open for the first time. Days later, she rose to a careerhigh No 2 in the BWF women’s singles rankings. After claiming a silver medal at the Badminton World Championships, only India’s second ever, Sindhu went on to win her second Superseries in October Kazumasa Sakai 21-11, 21-19, and a week later he vanquished the world and Olympic champion Chen Long in straight games 22-20, 21-16 to claim the Australia Open. Later, Srikanth became the second Indian after Prakash Padukone to win the Denmark Open and then created history by claiming the French Open. In addition, Srikanth also reached the final of the Singapore Open.
when she became the first Indian to win the Korea Open. Her other title was the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold. Other close finishes came in the final of the National Badminton Championship and the Hong Kong Superseries, where she was runner-up both times.
SAINA NEHWAL (World No. 10)
A successful, injuryfree year for the 2012 London Olympics medalist. Saina won a Grand Prix Gold, a bronze at the World Championships and her third national title. Won the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix - her 23rd title overall. Won a bronze medal at the Badminton World Championships having reached her recordbreaking seventh consecutive quarterfinal. Beat Olympic gold medal winner and two-time world champion Carolina Marin 22-20, 21-18 in round one of the Denmark Open.
HS PRANNOY (World No. 10)
His most successful year ever, Prannoy won a Grand Prix Gold, reached the semifinals of two Super Series and won the national title for the first time. Claimed his third Grand Prix Gold title by beating compatriot Parupalli Kashyap 21-15, 20-22, 21-12 in the final of the US Open.
Reached the semi-finals of the Indonesia Open Super Series and the French Open. Became the first Indian to beat the big four of world badminton: Taufik Hidayat (2013), Lin Dan (2015), Chong Wei (twice in 2017) and Chen Long (2017). Achieved a career-best position of No. 10.
B SAI PRANEETH (World No. 16)
Having never made it past the quarters of a Super Series of a Grand Prix Gold tournament, Sai beat Kidambi Srikanth in the final of the Singapore Open. In this tournament, he also beat Denmark’s Emil Holst, world No. 23 Qiao Bin, eighth seed Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and Korea’s Lee Dong Keun to meet Srikanth in the first all-Indian Super Series final. Won his second title of the year in June, beating Indonesia’s Christie Jonatan 17-21, 21-18, 21-19 to clinch the $120,000 Thailand Open. Runnerup at the Syed Modi Grand Prix.
India Open: PV Sindhu, sixth loss in a final since Olympics
Zhang Is The New Champion; Shi Yuqi Claims Men’s Crown
In the end, a Chinese and an American of Chinese descent swept the honours on the final day.
After Shi Yuqi won the men’s singles title to become the first Chinese to do so in the India Open, Beiwan Zhang taught PV Sindhu such a bitter lesson that she refused to attend the customary aftermatch press meet on Sunday evening. For Sindhu, it was her sixth loss in a final since her Olympic silver, to go with two title wins.
Sindhu kept hopes alive till the very end but Zhang looked destined to write a beautiful story of her own. Having already scalped Saina Nehwal on Friday, she upstaged Sindhu 21-18, 11-21, 22-20 to win her first Tour title to fulfil a longcherished dream.
“I wanted to win a tour title this year,” the world No. 11 had said after her quarterfinal victory over Saina. That she could tilt the tightly-fought final game on Sunday her way, is something she would savour for long. “It is the best moment of my career,” the 27-old Zhang said after matching the world No. 4 point for point.
“I used the smash more than usual to quell Sindhu, who seemed to be under a lot of pressure. She was playing in front of the home crowd. I had nothing to lose,” said a beaming Zhang, before rushing off to catch the earliest flight out.
While the fifth seeded Zhang pocketed $26,250 and 9200 ranking points for her effort, Sindhu had to be content with $13,300 and 7800 ranking points.
Unlike Zhang, Shi Yuqi used the smash with rare precision to undo Chou Tien’s challenge. What Lin Dan couldn’t achieve in his few attempts, Yuqi did it in his first. “I am not a big fan of Super Dan,” said the champion moments after he calmly decimated Chou Tien Chen 21-18, 21-14. Even trailing till 17 in the first game, the 21-year old Chinese never looked ill at ease. Armed with an intelligent all-court game programmed by anticipation, Yuqi even returned Chou Tien’s supposed winners, much to the frustration of the Chinese Taipei player. He clocked four points on the bounce to reach game point and logged home the first with a lot of confidence.
In the second, however, Yuki didn’t let Chou Tien nose ahead. Consummately in control and using the smash only when absolutely sure of it being a winner, Yuki showed that his second singles title, after the French Open in 2016, was just a dawn of a shining day ahead. “He is sure to make the China’s Thomas Cup team,” said an official accompanying the China team.
RESULTS (ALL FINALS) — Men's singles 4-Shi Yuqi bt 3-Chou Tien Chen 21-18, 21-14 ; Women's singles 5-Beiwen Zhang bt 1-PV Sindhu 21-18, 11-21, 22-20; Men's doubles: 1-Marcus Gideon/ Kevin Sanjaya bt 4-Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 21-14, 21-16; Women's doubles: 3-Greysia Polii/ Apriyani Rahayu bt 2-Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai 21-18, 21-15; Mixed doubles: 5-Mathias Christiansen/ Christinna Pedersen bt Praveen Jordan/ Melati Daeva Oktavianti 21-14, 21-15.
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