By Ishwar Nath Jha
New Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS) Badminton star PV Sindhu’s bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen’s silver and bronze medal-winning performances at the World Championships in Spain made 2021 a historic year for Indian shuttlers. Looking at the remarkable performances of these players, one can be assured that they will continue their resurgence in the New Year.
It will be a busy season next year for the Indians as they will play at least 20 events, starting with the Yonex Sunrise India Open from January 11-16 in Delhi and ending with the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2022, December 14-22 in Guangzhou, China.
Apart from Sindhu, Indian badminton has high hopes from Srikanth, Sen, Parupalli Kashyap, B Sai Praneeth, HS Prannoy and the doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in 2022.
The 28-year-old Srikanth had struggled with form and fitness and the lowest point came when he failed to secure a Tokyo Olympics berth. But with two semi-final finishes at the Hylo Open in Germany in November 2021 and the Indonesia Masters besides a silver medal-winning performance at the World Championships, he has a promising great year ahead.
It was Srikanth’s maiden final appearance since the 2019 India Open in Delhi where he lost to Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen. Fresh from their clash in the World Championship final, newly-crowned champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore and silver medallist Srikanth are likely to meet again in the Yonex-Sunrise India Open.
With his youthful exuberance, Sen scripted a final finish at the Dutch Open in July 2021, made it to the semifinals at Hylo Open and then reached the knockout stage of the World Tour Finals on debut, where he sizzled with a bronze.
The 20-year-old showed his class and knocked out top players such as Kenta Nishimoto of Japan and Kevin Cordon of Guatemala on his way to the podium in the World Championship.
However, the 26-year-old Sindhu will have to overcome fierce competition in 2022 from the likes of Taiwanese Tai Tzu Ying, Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi and Spanish player Carolina Marin, who is recovering from injuries. These are the names with which Sindhu has to compete in almost every international event.
Former world No.1 Saina Nehwal, who missed the World Championships for the first time in her career due to multiple injuries, is expected to be back in 2022. However, the 31-year-old has not made any announcement regarding her comeback event.
Saina has been struggling with injuries since winning gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia. Over the past two years, she missed several tournaments, including the Tokyo Olympics due to injuries and ailments.
In men’s doubles, the promising pair of Shetty and Rankireddy reached the semi-finals at the Toyota Thailand Open, Swiss Open and Indonesia Open. However, injury forced Rankireddy out of action. Their wins against higher-ranked opponents at the Tokyo Olympics gives hope of a better year ahead.
The way Indian badminton players have performed and won medals at international events proves that they are moving in the right direction.
Main achievements in 2021
PV Sindhu — Bronze medal in Tokyo Olympics
Kidambi Srikanth — Silver medal in World Championships
Lakshya Sen — Bronze medal in World Championships
Key dates in 2022
Yonex Sunrise India Open — January 11-16, New Delhi, India
Syed Modi International — January 18-23, Lucknow, India
Spain Masters — March 1-6, Huelva, Spain
All England Open — March 16-20, Birmingham, England
Yonex Swiss Open — March 22-27, Switzerland
Thailand Open — May 17-22, Bangkok, Thailand
Indonesia Masters — June 7-12
Indonesia Open – June 14-19
Malaysia Open — June 28-July 3
Malaysia Masters — July 5-10
Singapore Open — July 12-17
BWF World Championships — August 21-28, Japan
US Open — October 4-9
Denmark Open — October 18-23
Hylo Open — November 1-6, Germany
China Open — November 29-December 4
World Tour Finals — December 14-18, Guangzhou, China.
By Ishwar Nath Jha