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In the illustrious history of the All England Badminton Championships, only two Indians have claimed the top honor to date, with Pullela Gopichand’s men’s singles victory in 2001 coming 21 years after Prakash Padukone’s men’s singles title in 1980.
There have been three times that Indians have come within a hair’s breadth of winning: Prakash Nath in 1947, Saina Nehwal in 2015 and Lakshya Sen last year, all losing finals.
As another edition of the All England Championships looms, here are the main talking points of the Indian contingent heading to Birmingham:
A new coach and a draw for Sindhu
PV Sindhu’s partnership with Park Tae-Sang of South Korea was a particularly fruitful one, one that led to a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics and gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. However, last month, Sindhu and Park parted ways, with results not forthcoming over the past few months.
Sindhu and her camp have moved quickly to enlist the services of Malaysia’s Hafiz Hashim, who has experienced success at the All England Championships himself.
She will need that knowledge in her corner, especially after being drawn in a quarter that also includes He Bingjiao and Tai Tzu Ying.
While Sindhu has burnished her credentials as a big stage player with numerous World Championship medals and two Olympic medals, All England glory has so far eluded her.
Second game blues for Lakshya in 2023
Until he ran head-first into the towering figure of Viktor Axelsen in last year’s final, Lakshya Sen looked well on his way to becoming the third Indian to win the title at the prestigious tournament.
This time, Lakshya has started the year 2023 in an uncharacteristically stuttering fashion, not making it to the semifinals of Malaysia Open, India Open or Indonesia Masters in 2023.
What has been evident in the three exits he has made in these three events is how he has claimed the first game but gone out in the second. In Malaysia, for example, he won the first game in his opening round match against HS Prannoy before dropping the second game 21-12. He lost the game in the end.
At the Indian Open, he lost in the second round to Rasmus Gemke, where he won the first game 21-16 before allowing the Danish badminton player to return to the contest by dropping the second game 15-21. Eventually, Gemke extinguished Lakshya.
In the Indonesia Masters, there was another second match when playing against Jonatan Christie where he won the first match 21-15, but equalized 10-21 in the second before going on to lose.
Of course, three results is not a large enough sample size to show a trend.
Worryingly, the Indian was also stunned by Christo Popov in the first round of the German Open last week.
His journey to another final in England will be a tough one, as he has drawn fifth seed Chou Tien Chen in the opening round. If he wins, he will face the winner of the showdown between Danish pair Anders Antonsen and Rasmus Gemke in Round 2.
Satwik-Chirag flying the flag for Indian doubles
Over the past few years, the brilliant men’s doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty has been the backbone of some of India’s greatest victories on the world stage, including the Thomas Cup title, which would not have been possible without the men’s pair . raise their game.
Last year they also claimed the French Open Super 750 title as well as the Indian Open Super 500 and a medal at the World Championships. Their results on the court also saw them rise to a world ranking of 5.
Coming into All England 2023, they have been drawn against the Indonesian pairing of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo. The Indians have yet to beat the ‘Minions’ in 11 meetings, and will be hoping they can be victorious at the 12th time of asking.
Should they manage to come out of that unscathed, they are likely to find second seeds Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in their path in the quarters. Should they win that, the other established pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan may be waiting for them.
Srikanth’s early season is struggling
After the 2022 BWF season ended, Kidambi Srikanth traveled to Indonesia for a few weeks to train at Prisma Sports Club Jakarta, trying to work out the flaws in his game.
WATCH | A TOPS athlete @srikidambi training at Prisma Sports Club in Jakarta, Indonesia
The international training camp has been funded under the TOPS scheme.pic.twitter.com/b18cTWyPp4@SAI_media @YASMindiaethia
— Prasar Bharati News Services and Digital Platform (@PBNS_India) November 28, 2022
After coming back, he told reporters that he is now looking for a foreign coach – preferably Indonesian or Malaysian – to work with him as he tries to regain the form that propelled him to the top shuttler position in the world on one time. . Currently ranked 19th in the world, Srikanth can be stunningly good and equally bad when it comes to rubbish.
So far in 2023, he has competed in three tournaments, and is yet to win a match. He lost in the first rounds of the Malaysian Open (to Kenta Nishimoto), India Open (to Viktor Axelsen) and Indonesian Masters (to Shesar Hiren Rhustavito).
In the 2023 All England competition, he could face tricky Japanese shuttler Kodai Naraoka in the second round, before potentially running into either Kenta Nishimoto or Lee Zii Jia in the quarters.
Now inside the Top 10, Pranoy is looking for a signature title
For a player who has made a name for himself by upsetting big names on tour, HS Pranoy’s couple may run into a few big names in the draw. In the second round, he is likely to run into third-seeded Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. If he makes it to the next round, staying put could be any of the quartet of fifth seed Chou Tien Chen, compatriot Lakshya Sen, or the Danish pair Anders Antonsen and Rasmus Gemke.
To get a shuttler of his caliber and who has a variety of shots in his quiver, Prannoy would be very keen to win a big ticket competition.
Treesa-Gayathri pairing is set for a big year
For many years, success in badminton tournaments was expected only from Indian singles shuttlers. Then came the gun slinging duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who have shown that they can compete for big titles as well.
And before anyone could dismiss their emergence as a flash in the pan, India is starting to get a glut of good doubles pairings in women’s doubles as well, thanks to Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly. In the last few months, the duo have produced a series of results that are indicative of their potential.
They won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year, and were a key cog in the wheel of the Indian badminton team that rolled its way to a bronze medal at the Asian Badminton Mixed Team Championships in Dubai last month. In Dubai, they had a win over the Malaysian World No 5 pair, Thinaah Muralitharan and Pearly Tan. They also registered wins in the quarters (over Hong Kong’s Ng Tsz Yau-Ng Wing Yung) and semi-finals (over Liu Sheng Shu-Tan Ning).