The 2019 BWF World Championships concluded in Basel, Switzerland on 25th August 2019. It was a memorable tournament, specially for the Indian badminton fans. The golden girl of Indian badminton, PV Sindhu created history by winning her maiden World Championships title in the women's singles event. In the men's singles event, world number one, Kento Momota of Japan, defended his title by beating Anders Antonsen of Denmark.
Indian shuttlers produced their best-ever performance in this edition of the tournament. They ended up with one gold and one bronze.
For Sindhu, this was her 5th World Championships medal, making her the joint-highest in women's singles in the history of the game. With this feat, Sindhu has definitely established herself as one of the all-time greats of the game.
Sindhu played amazing badminton throughout the tournament. She had a very tough draw, where she had to face World No. 2, 3 and 4 in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final respectively.
In the quarters, she came back from a game down to beat Tai Tzu Ying in three hard-fought games. A round later, Sindhu was up against the All England Open champion, Chen Yufei of China. It was expected to be a very tough contest. But Sindhu was at her very best and she literally toyed with Chen Yufei and beat her 21-7, 21-14 to reach the final.
In the summit clash, Sindhu's opponent was her old nemesis, Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, who had beaten her in the epic World Championships final of 2017. But this time, Sindhu made sure that there was no repeat of 2017.
She was at her clinical best from the very beginning. With her aggressive smashes and beautiful net play, Sindhu dominated Okuhara from the start and won the match 21-7, 21-7. It turned out to be one of the most one-sided finals in the history of the tournament.
Sai's bronze: A sweet surprise
Alongside Sindhu's great achievement, there was another pleasant surprise for the Indian fans, in the form of Sai Praneeth. He won a bronze, in the men's singles event, bringing home India's first medal in this category after 36 long years. Sai Praneeth's bronze was a sweet surprise as he went into the tournament as the 16th seed and was the third highest-ranked Indian shuttler, behind the much-fancied Kidambi Srikanth and Sameer Verma.
Apart from Sindhu and Praneeth, other star shuttlers like Saina Nehwal, Srikanth, Sameer Verma and HS Prannoy had disappointing outings. Saina started off in an impressive fashion, but suffered a shock defeat in the pre-quarter-finals to Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark.
Srikanth, who was seeded 7th, lost in the third round to Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand. HS Prannoy started off brilliantly by beating the legendary Lin Dan in his 2nd round match. But he also failed to continue his dream run and lost to eventual champion Kento Momota in his third round match.
The doubles and mixed doubles pairs of India also could not make much of a mark and lost in the initial rounds of the tournament.
As a whole, India's performance in the tournament was very good, as they ended up with their best-ever medal haul and also a world champion. However there are areas which need improvement, specially in the doubles disciplines.
If the Indian team management can address those weak areas, then the badminton fans can definitely hope for an even better performance from India's badminton contingent, in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.