BWF World Championships 2018: Can Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu set up the dream final?
The 2018 Badminton World Championship will be held in Nanjing,China from 30th July till 5th August 2018. With the World Championship less than a week away, all the badminton lovers of India will be keen to know about India's chances in this year's Championship.
How India Fared in the Last Edition
In the 2017 World Championship in Glasgow, P.V.Sindhu had an epic final match against Japan's Okuhara. However Sindhu ultimately ended up on the losing side and had to be content with the silver medal.
Making a comeback after injury, Saina Nehwal played exceptionally well to win a bronze medal. However K Srikant, India's top male shuttler, who was one of the favourites to win the tournament, failed to cross the quarter-finals hurdle.
Indian Contingent in this Year's Championship
Like last year's championship, this year also, the Indian contingent will be led by World No. 3 P.V. Sindhu and World Number 5 K. Srikant in the women's and men's section respectively.
Alongside them in singles, there will be the seasoned players like Saina Nehwal, H.S Prannoy, Sameer Verma and Sai Praneeth. In the doubles events, India will be represented by 4 pairs each, in men's and women's sections and 3 pairs in the mixed doubles section. With this fairly strong contingent, India would hope to put up a good show in this year's tournament also.
India's Chances in the Various Categories
The draw of the tournament has already been declared. Based on the draw, the quality of Indian players, and their current form, it can be said that the best chances of winning medals will be in the singles events.
In men's singles, Srikanth has a fairly easy draw and hence is one of the favourites to win the title. He will start off his campaign against Nhat Nguyen and will have to face lower-ranked opponents in the next two rounds also.
With Lee Chong Wei withdrawing from the tournament due to respiratory issues, Srikanth's draw has opened up and he can go all the way to the final, as he has a very good record against all the other players in his half of the draw.
World No. 11 H.S Prannoy also has two easy initial rounds, after which he is most likely to face World No. 7 Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei. With the likes of Lin Dan and Shi Yuqi also in his half of the draw, Prannoy has to play his best badminton if he hopes to reach the latter stages of the tournament.
However on his day, Prannoy can beat anybody and hence he is one of the dark horses of the men's singles event.
The other two men's singles players from India, Sameer Verma and Sai Praneeth will have to face players like Lin Dan and Son Wan Ho in the initial rounds of their campaign, and hence require to punch above their weight to progress further in the tournament.
In the women's singles section, the poster girls of Indian Badminton, P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will be in action. With the two being placed in different halves of the draw, the whole country will hope that the 'Dream Final' between Saina and Sindhu, which Okuhara prevented in the last edition, will happen, this time round. However for this to happen, both the girls will have to be at their very best.
With the likes of world champion Okuhara, World No. 2 Yamaguchi, Chen Yufei and Sun Ji Hyun in Sindhu's half of the draw, the World No. 3 Indian shuttler will not have it easy. However, because of her big match temperament and fighting spirit, she is still one of the favourites to win the tournament.
Saina Nehwal, on the other hand, might have to face former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in the early stages of the tournament only. With the likes of Marin and World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying in her half, it would be a very difficult road ahead for Saina. However, we cannot count out a champion like her.
Doubles and Mixed Doubles
A total of 11 Indian pairs (4 each in men's and women's doubles, and 3 in mixed doubles) participating in the doubles events, in itself, is an important achievement for Indian badminton.However, expecting any of those pairs to win a medal will be unrealistic.
But, the talented young duo of Satwiksairaj and Chiraj Shetty in men's doubles and the experienced women's doubles team of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikky Reddy can be expected to win their initial round matches and then cause an upset or two in the latter rounds.