With the Malaysia Masters coming up, it is a good time to preview the top Indian badminton players to watch out for in 2015. India had a good year in 2014 with Indian shuttlers claiming 15 individual international titles. Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth grabbed the biggest headlines with their historic wins at the China Open.
India performed well in multisporting events too with the highlight being an Asian Games medal after 28 years and also Commonwealth Games gold for Parupalli Kashyap. With the confidence the Indian players have displayed at elite events, bigger things can be expected in 2015.
Let us have a look at five of the most talented Indian players who can carry Indian badminton forward in 2015.
1. Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal bounced back in style last year after a lean 2013. She started the year on a bright note, reigning supreme at the Indian Grand Prix Gold and then annexed the Australian Open Super Series title. After spearheading the Indian team to historic medals at the Uber Cup and the Asian Games, it was her China Open triumph that made the biggest news.
In between, Saina opted for the Bangalore-based Vimal Kumar as coach over her long-time mentor Pullela Gopichand and this increased the scrutiny over her performance. Her performances after that which included a semi-final appearance at the World Superseries Finals leave no doubt that she is heading in the right direction. Expect the World No. 4 to continue in the same vein when she defends her crown at the Indian Grand Prix this month.
Saina Nehwal’s achievements in 2014 –
Winner – India Grand Prix Gold, Australian Open Super Series and China Open Super Series Premier
Semi-finals – World Superseries Finals
Bronze medals – Uber Cup, Asian Games
2. PV Sindhu
PV Sindhu may have won just one title at the end of the season at the Macau Open but she showed tremendous maturity throughout the year. She grabbed a total of five medals last year including the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games, the Uber Cup, the Asian Badminton Championships and the World Championships. It was her achievement of becoming a double World Championships medallist at the age of 19 that validates her development at such a young age.
Sindhu is a fast learner and it might be 2015 when we can see Sindhu with her first Super Series title.
PV Sindhu’s achievements in 2014 –
Winner – Macau Open Grand Prix Gold
Runner-up – India Grand Prix Gold
Semi-finals – Swiss Grand Prix Gold
Bronze medals – World Championships, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Uber Cup, Asian Badminton Championships
3. Kidambi Srikanth
Kidambi Srikanth’s meteoric rise in 2014 was one of the biggest talking points of Indian sports. He made rapid strides towards the end of the season with his shock victory over the two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan at the China Open. It was one of the biggest upset victories for an Indian sportsperson in 2014.
Srikanth thus became the first Indian man ever to win a Super Series Premier title. The 21-year-old continued the momentum by reaching the Hong Kong Open semi-finals and the World Superseries Finals semi-finals in his maiden appearance. The results helped the Hyderabadi to end the year ranked at a career-best World No. 4. Srikanth is confident and raring to go. Expect him to bring more such laurels in 2015.
Kidambi Srikanth’s achievements in 2014 –
Winner – China Open Super Series Premier
Runner-up – India Grand Prix Gold
Semi-finals – World Superseries Finals, Singapore Super Series, Hong Kong Super Series, Mixed team event at Commonwealth Games
4. Parupalli Kashyap
The 2014 Commonwealth Games will forever be etched in Parupalli Kashyap’s memory. Ranked as high as 6th in 2013, a couple of injuries led to a free fall in the rankings and it was at the Commonwealth Games that Kashyap found redemption. The 28-year-old made history by becoming the first Indian male shuttler in 32 years to clinch the gold.
The Commonwealth gold bolstered Kashyap’s confidence and saw him produce some sterling performances back-to-back at the Denmark, French and China Open Super Series. With a new body language and an aggressive game, Kashyap claimed upset wins over three top-10 players. He is surely hungry for more success in the new season.
Parupalli Kashyap’s achievements in 2014 –
Winner – Commonwealth Games men’s singles
Semi-finals – Denmark Open Super Series Premier, Swiss Grand Prix Gold, Mixed team event at Commonwealth Games
5. HS Prannoy
HS Prannoy proved that he is one of the brightest talents to emerge in Indian badminton recently. The 22-year-old showed a lot of stamina in reaching back-to-back finals at Vietnam GP Open and Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold. Even though he lost in the Vietnam final, he showed a lot of character in emerging victorious the very next week in Indonesia. The youngster also clinched the Tata Open at the end of the year.
The wins helped the fast-rising Prannoy to shoot up to World No. 21 in the BWF rankings. It is only a matter of time before he breaks into the top 15. Keep an eye on this talented shuttler from the Gopichand stable.
HS Prannoy’s achievements in 2014 –
Winner – Indonesia Open Grand Prix Gold, Tata Open, Manorama Indian Open All India Senior Ranking Badminton Tournament, VV Natu Memorial All India Senior Ranking Badminton Tournament
Runner-up – Vietnam GP Open
Semi-finals – India Grand Prix Gold, Bitburger Open Grand Prix Gold, Macau Open Grand Prix Gold, Sri Lanka Open