Badminton Year-Ender: Top 5 shuttlers of the 2019 season 

PV Sindhu
PV Sindhu
Sohinee Basu

The sparks have flown for the year with the courts heating up with tense badminton action. Feisty rallies, jaw-dropping smashes, gentle netplay to the violent attacking shots — the year has seen it all.

In another outstanding season of phenomenal badminton, Indian fans had their exclusive moment of glory during August when ace shuttler PV Sindhu finally crowned herself as the World Champion in Basel.

Other than that, the year was not all that memorable for most of India's shuttlers while the South-East Asians continued their stronghold over the game. Women's World No. 1 and Chinese sensation, Chen Yufei stole the thunder this year with storming wins in the BWF World Tour circuit while World No. 2 Taiwanese force, Tai Tzu-Ying gave the best of the best a run for their money as she played some classic matches and took home rave laurels.

On the men's front, World No. 1 Japanese player Kento Momota has been the real star with the crown of World Champion on his head and spectacular wins to back up his 'BWF Best Male Player of the Year' award. Other than the singles show, doubles specialist duo of Sukamljo and Gideon really owned the game, picking up BWF titles and Championships throughout the course of the year.

While it hasn't been the best of years for the Indian shuttlers, if we are to consider the overall output. Save for Sindhu and Lakshya Sen and even the duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, the year has not been the most glamourous for the Indians.

There were several moments of tense drama on the court and nail-biting action and intense rallies that ensured that it was a win-win situation for the sport, with players toiling hard and true in their matches.

Let's take a look at the 2019 season and how the top 5 shuttlers fared.

#5 PV Sindhu

PV Sindhu
PV Sindhu

For Hyderabadi ace shuttler PV Sindhu, it has been a wonderful 2019 as she set a new record for herself and India when she finally laid her hands on the elusive gold medal at the BWF World Championships. In a storming final in Basel, Sindhu took down her old nemesis Nozomi Okuhara of Japan to be crowned the World Champion. There was no stopping a determined Sindhu who put up an impressive performance that had Okuhara fighting or points in vain.

After that amazing high, Sindhu’s form considerably dropped with early-exits in the next six tournaments. Save for a quarter-final finish at the Fuzhou French Open 2019, Sindhu’s lone crowning moment of the year came on August 25th in Basel. Sindhu has laid down a record of winning medals at every World Championships, the exception being in 2015.

A recipient of both the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Padma Shri, Sindhu became the second woman in the world to win five or more medals at the World Championships. Sindhu will be raring to make a comeback next year and impress with her performances on-court again.

#4 Chen Yufei

Chen Yufei
Chen Yufei

For World No.1 Chen Yufei, it has been yet another spectacular year. The 21-year-old from China was a constant threat with her typical attacking style of playing. Known for her relentlessness, Yufei pushed her opponents to the extremes to claim the big titles for herself. Becoming the World No. 1 for the first time this year, Yufei has achieved a lot at such a tender age.

In 2019, Yufei has grabbed onto the All England Open Championships after handing rival Tai Tzu-Ying a defeat, she went on to get the top honours in the Australian Open, Swiss Open, Thailand Open, China Open, Hong Kong Open and most recently crowned herself as the year-ending Champion and No. 1 by winning the BWF World Tour Finals 2019. Having stunned one and all on the courts in 2019, the Chinese sensation is going to aim for bigger wins next season for sure.

#3 Kento Momota

Kento Momota
Kento Momota

For the 25-year-old Japanese ace shuttler, success comes easy. In 2019, fortune has favoured Kento Momota greatly. He became the lone Japanese player to feature on a list of Chinese shuttlers to have won back-to-back World Championship titles. Collecting a total of 11 BWF titles in a span of 12 months, Momota had it really going for him as he delivered top-class performances and maintained a delicate consistency unmatched by any other male player on the tour.

The reigning World No. 1 created history when he won the All England Open against Viktor Axelsen and became the first Japanese player to do so. Momota was in sharp form and executed quality badminton en route to claiming the Singapore and Japan Open titles, the World Championship, the China and Korea Open and also the Denmark and Fuzhou China Open, which was all topped off with a World Tour Finals victory too, cementing his position as the year-ending World No. 1. Ready to fire into the next season, Momota will ride on the success wave of his 2019 and enter the next year.

#2 Tai Tzu-Ying

Tai Tzu-Ying
Tai Tzu-Ying

Tai Tzu-Ying has been way too familiar with the World No 1 spot, occupying it for the longest span. The 25-year-old Taiwanese player is a major threat to all the shuttlers around. 2019 has been her hunting ground as she preyed on her opponents to get the highest honour. Although she missed out on claiming some of the big titles by an edge, especially against Yufei, Ying has been putting in consisent effort to maintain her formidable form.

She was the runner-up at the All England Open and the China Open and lastly, the BWF World Tour Finals. A close opponent of PV Sindhu, Ying displayed stellar form to win the Denmark Open, Singapore Open and the Malaysia Open. The World No. 2 from Taiwan, Ying is a force to reckon with on-court given her attacking style of playing. 2020 promises to shine better for the shuttler as she is busy honing her skills for next year.

#1 Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon

Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon
Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon

The duo of Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon have been stirring up quite the storm on court given their spectacular year. The doubles specialist pair who are the reigning World No. 1 players have had a wonderful 2019, where they picked up a whopping eight BWF World Tour titles.

Often known as 'The Minions' by the badminton fraternity because of their rather, smaller than average height, the Indonesian duo possess the lithe agility of the minions from 'Despicable Me'. Known to play terribly fast shots which leave opponents befuddled, the duo of Sukamljo and Gideon is akin to a well-oiled machine.

The winner of the Asian Championships this year, the duo bagged the titles at the Indonesia Masters, Malaysia Masters, Indonesia Open, Japan Open, China Open, Denmark Open, French Open and also the Fuzhou China Open. In the French Open, the Indonesian pair took down the inspired and succesful Indian duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chriag Shetty.

Edited by A. Ayush Chatterjee


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