Male shuttlers make 2017 'A summer of content'
K Srikanth's sensational run, H S Prannoy's giant-killing spree and the rise of B Sai Praneeth — men have stolen a rare march on women in what has been a summer of content for Indian badminton this year.
Ever since the emergence of a certain Saina Nehwal, women's singles has dominated with the gutsy Haryana-born shuttler winning titles galore. And P V Sindhu's meteoric rise only added to the supremacy that the women shuttlers enjoyed.
In 2010, Saina won three Super Series titles at Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong, besides clinching the coveted gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, a feat that has never been matched by any Indian ever since.
Cut to mid-2017, Indian shuttlers have so far won an unprecedented four Superseries titles out of six and barring P V Sindhu's win at the India Open, it's the Indian men's brigade led by Kidambi Srikanth, which has been on a rampage.
Srikanth clinched back-to-back titles at Indonesia and Australia, while Sai Praneeth lays claim to his maiden Super Series title at Singapore after defeating Srikanth in the summit clash. If the duo won the titles, Prannoy won hearts after he sent a shocking reminder of his talent by stunning Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei and Rio gold medallist Chen Long of China in successive days in Jakarta.
"The last two weeks has been fantastic. Not only for me, but for Prannoy and Sai. It is great, the way men's singles is progressing and I think we have a great chance of winning a medal at the World Championship now," said Srikanth, who is also a winner of the 2014 China Open and 2015 India Open.
Prannoy adds: "I am really glad that badminton is growing in popularity and glad that I am a part of that. I just hope we can have three or four players in the top ten in the next couple of years."
India have six shuttlers inside the World top-35 with Srikanth, Praneeth and Ajay making it to the top 20 and chief coach Pullela Gopichand, who produced two Olympic-medallists in Saina (London Games bronze) and Sindhu (Rio Games silver), feels time has come for the men to come out of the shadows of women's singles.
"I think overall, these wins have put the men's singles in a platform now. So we can say that they have come out of the shadows of women's singles. The way the players are playing, we can expect more results in the coming months and I hope for more consistency from the players,"
he said. Besides the World Championship in August, there are many more Super Series and Super Series Premier tournaments which will be up for grabs at Korea (Sept 12-17), Japan (Sept 19- 24), Denmark (Oct 17-22), France (Oct 24-29), China (Nov 14- 19), Hong Kong (Nov 21-26) and Dubai World Super Series Finals (Dec 13-17) this year.