New Delhi, Dec 13: The outgoing year 2019 has been a mixed bag one for Indian badminton as not much was achieved by our shuttlers. Ace female shuttler PV Sindhu brought laurels to the country as she became the first Indian to win a gold at the BWF World Championships while no other player managed to leave a mark in the year.
In Basel (Switzerland), Sindhu entered her third consecutive World Championships final where she defeated Japan's Nozomi Okuhara on 25 August and won in straight games 21-7, 21-7.
Save for young single's shuttler Lakshya Sen and the men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Renkireddy and Chirag Shetty, the big names like Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, B Sai Praneeth had a horrible show in 2019. They would be hoping for a fresh start in 2020 which is also going to be an Olympic year.
The women's doubles players had nothing to show in 2019 and national coach Pullela Gopichand has an uphill task in front of him to improve the standard of Indian badminton, overall.
MyKhel looks at all these closely in this year-ender 2019 focusing Indian badminton.
BWF World Championship medal, the solitary gold for Sindhu in 2019
Barring the world championship gold, Sindhu didn't win any title in the year and the Olympic silver-medallist. Due to a rather disappointing year, Sindhu failed to find a place in the list of nominees for 'Female Player of the Year'.
In her first international assignment of 2019, Sindhu reached the quarterfinals of Indonesia Masters where she lost to Carolina Marin in two consecutive games. In the National Badminton Championships, she lost to three-time champion Saina Nehwal in the final.
The 24-year-old gave the German Open a break to focus on All England Badminton Championships but her hopes came crashing as she suffered a first-round exit in All England. Sindhu lost to Sung Ji Hyun of Korea by 16-21, 22-20, 18-21 in a thriller.
Encashing on her success on the field, Sindhu raked in the moolah by signing a four-year-long deal with Li-Ning for nearly ₹500 million (US.2 million) after ending her deal with Yonex.
Sindhu lost India Open, where she was the second-seed, semi-finals to He Bingjao of China. In the Malaysian Open, she suffered a defeat in the quarter-finals to Sung Ji Hyun of Korea 18-21, 7-21.
She next played her home tournament the India Open where she was the second seed. She lost in the semi-finals to He Bingjao of China with a scoreline 21-23, 18-21. Nozomi Okuhara then defeated her in the semi-finals of Singapore Open. In the Indonesia Open, the Indian was defeated by Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in a one-sided final. Yamaguchi once again got the better of the Indian in the quarter-finals of Japan Open.
After a rather dull first half of the year, the fifth seed, Sindhu kept previous disappointments behind and went on winning the World Championships in Basel, Switzerland in August. The Indian prevailed over Nozomi Okuhara and displayed a dominating show in the all-important final. The Hyderabadi shuttler, with that win, became only the second woman after Zhang Ning to win five medals at the competition.
Later in the French Open, she was defeated in the quarter-finals by Tai Tzu Ying.
However, a major disappointment came across her way in December when the defending champion's campaign in the year-ending BWF World Tour Final, in Guangzhou, was all but over after she suffered back to losses lost to Yamaguchi and Chen Yufei (China).
A forgettable year for Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal, India's second-best women's singles player, too had a forgettable 2019. The London Olympic-bronze medallist lost in the semi-final at Malaysia Masters.
The 29-year-old won her first BWF Super 500 title of the year at the Indonesia Masters when Carolina Marin retired from the court injured in the final. She defeated top seed Sindhu in the National Championship to claim her fourth national title.
Since then, Saina hardly had any success at the international stage and look for a fresh start in 2020.
A mediocre year for men's singles shuttlers
Men's singles shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Sai Praneeth too had a forgettable year in this year. None of these big names won a title in 2019.
World Championships bronze medallist Praneeth, however, broke into the top 10 of men's singles for the first time in his career. He rose a spot to be ranked tenth in the BWF rankings released in November.
Teenage sensation Lakshya Sen, a lone bright spot
However, fast-rising Lakshya Sen showed he could be the new badminton sensation in the years to come as he claimed four titles in a gap of three months. The 18-year-old from Uttarakhand clinched four titles since September as he clinched gold medals at Scottish Open, SaarLorLux Open, Dutch Open, and Belgian International.
Lakshya, who is ranked 41 at the moment, will soon break into the top-40 in the BWF rankings and inch closer to a direct qualification in the top grade 2 events.
Satwiksairaj-Chirag make it a breakthrough year in men's doubles
Indian men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty made an upward curve in the year 2019 and were nominated for the 'Most Improved Player of the Year' award by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) after a stellar season during which the duo picked up some memorable wins.
The young combination had a breakthrough season, claiming its maiden Super 500 title at Thailand Open before reaching the finals of French Open Super 750 event this year.
Continuing their stunning rise duo achieved its career-best BWF rankings of World No. 7 in men's doubles. They became the 1st Indian men's doubles pair to be ranked inside the top 10 of BWF charts.