Because of the ongoing Covid -19 pandemic, shuttlers from many of the top badminton playing nations like China, Indonesia and Korea could not participate in this year's All England Championships.
As a result this year's competition is less tough, for shuttlers from other strong badminton playing nations like Japan, Denmark, Malaysia, Thailand and India.
Badminton lovers in India had hoped that the 20-year-old wait for an All England title would finally end for India this time. This was because the Indian contingent went in with a full strength squad led by PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth in the women's and men's singles respectively.
Alongside PV Sindhu (World No 7), in women's singles, India also had the great Saina Nehwal (World No 19) in their ranks.
In the men's singles, India had one of the strongest contingents comprising of as many as 6 shuttlers, viz. H.S Prannoy, Sameer Verma, Lakshya Sen, P Kashyap, Sai Praneeth and K Srikanth.
In the doubles event also India had 8 pairs - two in the men's, three in the women's and three in the mixed doubles section. Fans had high hopes from the 6th seeded men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chiraj Shetty and the experienced women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy.
In the absence of many of the top doubles pairs of the world, India had a great opportunity of winning a few doubles medals.
But this year's All England Championship continued to remain a jinx for the Indian contingent as well.
How the Indian contingent fared in the 2021 All England Championship:
Like the previous few editions of this year's tournament, the performance of the Indian contingent has been disappointing so far.
On the very first day of the All England Championships, two of India's biggest hopes, Saina Nehwal and K Srikanth crashed out of the tournament after losing their respective 1st round matches.
Saina Nehwal pulled her hamstring and retired hurt against Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark (8-21, 4-10), thus raising serious doubts about her immediate future. K Srikanth (seeded 8th) was also nowhere close to his best as he lost his match against unseeded Nhat Nguyen of Ireland (11-21,21-15,12-21).
Veteran shuttler P Kashyap also lost his 1st round match against World number 1 Kento Momota of Japan(21-13, 22-20) after putting up a decent fight.
Three of the remaining four other men's singles players, viz. HS Pranoy, Sameer Verma and Sai Praneeth crashed out in the second round of the event after losing hard fought encounters. In the men's doubles and mixed doubles events, all the Indian pairs crashed out of the All England Championships in the initial two rounds.
In the women's doubles, the experienced pair of Ashwini Ponappa and Sikki Reddy looked in good touch as they reached the Quarter Finals of the tournament. They beat a Thai pair and a Bulgarian pair in straight sets, in the 1st and 2nd round respectively.
However in the quarters, they lost out against the Dutch pair of Selena Piek and Cheryl Seinen (24-22,21-11), thus ending India's challenge in the doubles events.
In men's singles, the emergence of 19 year old sensation, Lakshya Sen, was a pleasant surprise. Lakshya emerged as the most successful men's singles player for India in this year's All England Championships, leaving behind his more hallowed compatriots.
He reached the quarter-finals after two back-to-back straight set wins. In the quarter-finals, he put up a valiant fight before going down against Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands in 3 hard fought sets (17-21,21-16,17-21).
PV Sindhu: India's lone surviving shuttler in the tournament:
The only positive news for the Indian fans is that their biggest hope, PV Sindhu (Seeded 5th), is still in the fray and looks in excellent form. She cruised into the All England Championships quarter-finals with two straight set victories against her lower-ranked opponents.
However, her real test begins from here on, as she is up against the Japanese star Akane Yamaguchi (seeded 3rd) in her quarter-final encounter.
As Sindhu has a better head-to-head record against Yamaguchi (10-7), she will be the favorite going into the match. However Yamaguchi is an excellent player and Sindhu has to be at the top of her game in order to come out victorious.
After the disappointing performance of all the other Indian shuttlers in this year's All England Championships, the fans will hope that PV Sindhu will be an exception.
If Sindhu plays well in her upcoming matches, she has every possibility of going all the way and winning her maiden All England Championships title. It is an event she is yet to win in her illustrious career.