The year 2018 was a tough year for Indian badminton. With big tournaments lined up and players hardly getting any breaks to recover midway, it was largely a disappointing year with top shuttlers PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal and the likes of HS Prannoy and B Sai Praneeth struggling to claim titles. The year was threatening to come to an end with a title drought for Indian badminton. However, world number three PV Sindhu finally broke the jinx when she defeated world number seven Nozomi Okuhara from Japan in the year-ending BWF World Tour Finals in Guangzhou on December 16 becoming the first player from India to win it.
This win was a boost for Sindhu as she won a title after losing seven straight finals. She remained unbeaten throughout the tournament and overcame world number one Tai Tzu Ying from Chinese Taipei on way to reach final. Prior to this win, Sindhu lost to six different players in the finals -- to fellow Indian Saina Nehwal at the Commonwealth Games, to Nozomi Okuhara (Thailand Open), Carolina Marin (World Championship), Beiwen Zhang (India Open), Tai Tzu Ying (Asian Games) and Yakane Yamaguchi (Super Series Final-2017).
In contrast, the Hyderabad girl last year won three titles – the India Open, Korea Open, and Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold and emerged runners-up in three other tournaments.
Srikanth Kidambi bags a— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) April 15, 2018
World No. 1 & India's favourite @SriKidambi smashes his 1st #CWG medal, a , against Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei in #GC2018Badminton.
I congratulate him and all our badminton players for their great performance in #CWG2018. #IndiaAtCWG pic.twitter.com/CPbaYrr3FF
Badminton fans in India expected a lot from Kidambi Srikanth this year. But the star shuttler failed to make a mark after the storm he created last year (by winning the Australia Open, Indonesia Open, French Open and Denmark Open).
Srikanth won a solitary gold in the mixed doubles at the Commonwealth Games and lost to Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei in the men's singles final to content with silver. During this period, he was ranked world number 1 for a week by dislodging Denmark's Viktor Axelsen, to become the first Indian male to achieve this feat.
In the recent years, @NSaina has become synonymous with sporting excellence. She has distinguished herself in several tournaments and the CWG 2018 was no exception. She bagged two Golds, one during the Women's Singles event and second, in the Mixed Team event. pic.twitter.com/PL4FLJKxNG— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 30, 2018
Srikanth shockingly lost to Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki Vincent (ranked 28th) in the Asian Games. Following the Asian Games debacle, Srikanth's poor run continued as he was knocked out in the quarter-finals of China and Japan Open.
However, Saina Nehwal brought India a bronze, becoming the first female badminton player to win a medal at Asian Games.
Sai Praneeth too failed to make a mark this year. However, HS Prannoy won the bronze at the Asian Championships. On the other hand, rising star Sameer Verma won three titles this year (Syed Modi International, Hyderabad Open and Swiss Open).