For the past few years, Indians have been performing considerably well at international level in all categories of the sport. The game of Badminton seems to be garnering a fair amount of interest in the country. Although the doubles front is still devoid of major international victories, in the singles, Indian Shuttlers have been raising the bar and reaching new heights. This is also highlighted in the world rankings where the singles players have consistently been featuring in the top ten.
In 2016, Indian badminton (still majorly driven by women shuttlers) witnessed the emergence of a new queen, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu as she dethroned Saina Nehwal as India’s face for badminton. The latter who was injury plagued in the beginning of the year had a disastrous year as she was only able to win one title. An early exit at the Rio Olympics and missing major tournaments added to her woes. In contrast to her senior, P V Sindhu had a year to remember with titles in China and Malaysia and a silver at the Olympics, she even reached a career high world number six on December 26th.
With the 2017 BWF season commencing from the second week of January, Sportwalk takes a look at Indian shuttlers who could make this year look like their own:
The girl who has long been carrying the Indian badminton on her shoulders is all set to brush aside the woes of 2016 and start afresh. Having perfectly healed from her knee injury, the former world number one is expected to win at least a couple of Super Series titles if not a Premier. She is also expected to reach at least the semi final stage of Badminton Asia Championships (BAC) and the quarters of World Championships. The icing on the cake would be if she qualifies for the Super Series Finals and manages to finish as one of the top five players in the world.
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu
The Hyderabadi girl, national coach Pullela Gopichand’s star pupil would love continue with her form this year as well. A successful defence of her 2016 titles and adding another couple of Premier titles to her kitty would not only ensure a place in the year end Super Series Finals but will also make her a strong contender for the top most spot in the BWF rankings. An appearance in the summit clash at the BAC and a semi finals run in the World Championships is what can be expected from her.
The 23 year old from Guntur who reached a career high rank of 3 in June, 2015 had a pretty decent 2016 with a gold at the South Asian Games and a victory at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. He would love to replicate his 2015 season where he won the Swiss Open while also championing the Indian Open. He is expected to make a comeback to the top 10 in world rankings and win a Super Series title. If things go his way, couple of Grand Prix Golds and a potentially satisfying performance at both the Asian and World Championships, could also be expected from this talented youngster.
In the doubles forum, the Indians need to raise their level of game-play in order to be serious threats to the other world class teams but the duo of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy are expected to put up some impressive performances this year. Other singles players namely Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma and Shivani Gadde are also expected to emerge victorious in Grand Prix events.
With the Sudirman Cup to be held in May at Gold Coast, Australia this year, the national team is expected to break the jinx and qualify for the knockout stages.
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