Malvika Bansod has always been regarded as one of the brightest young talents in the country.
2021 was a dream year for the talented southpaw. The Nagpur shuttler finally lived up to her immense potential by breaking the shackles with some inspiring displays throughout the year.
The badminton schedule in 2021 was severely hampered by the raging pandemic, but even with limited opportunities, Malvika proved her worth by raising her bar.
Representing the country in the prestigious Sudirman Cup and Uber Cup was the icing on the cake for 20-year-old Malvika.
With PV Sindhu opting out of both team championships after her second Olympic medal at the Tokyo Olympics, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Malvika.
Moreover, Saina Nehwal was injured after playing just a solitary match in the Uber Cup. It opened another opportunity as it made Malvika the No. 1 women’s singles player choice for India.
It was a golden opportunity for Malvika and she grabbed it with both hands.
Malvika got to play with several of the world's top players including Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong and Kirsty Gilmour of Scotland. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Malvika said:
“I got a chance to play some of the world’s best players in the Sudirman Cup and Uber Cup. I did pretty well against all of them. It certainly boosted my confidence a great deal. It was perhaps the best couple of weeks of my career when we played in Denmark."
Experts believe Malvika will be a completely different player after a wonderful stint in Europe. Competing against the best in the business at the highest level made her a more mature player.
She gave proof of her improved confidence when she triumphed at the All India Senior Rankings tournament, which concluded in Hyderabad last week.
Second seed Malvika toppled top seed and hot favorite Aakarshi Kashyap in the final to clinch the women’s singles crown.
Malvika makes light work of her opponents on way to third All India title
During the second BAI Series tournament in Hyderabad, Malvika was on song. She dismissed all her opponents in straight games to stamp her authority in style. She looked in absolute command on her way to bag a third All India Senior Ranking tournament title.
“I produced a very good all-round performance throughout the Hyderabad tournament. I wanted to bounce back after I lost in three games in the earlier tournament in Chennai. I stayed positive and focused on my job. I am glad I delivered a top class performance which made me extremely happy,” said Malvika.
In the first tournament post-pandemic in Chennai, Malvika went down fighting against Ashmita Chaliha of Assam in the women’s singles quarterfinals.
In addition to playing in the Sudirman Cup and Uber Cup, Malvika also bagged two international titles in 2021. World No. 76 Malvika emerged as champion in Uganda and Lithuania.
Malvika is now targeting three international tournaments that are scheduled to be held in India this month. She wants to capitalize on her sound form by doing well in the Indian Open (New Delhi, January 11-16), Syed Modi Open (Lucknow, Jan 18-23) and Odisha Open (Cuttack, January 25-30). Malvika, who is an engineering student, added:
“After winning the title in Hyderabad, I took a few days rest at my home in Nagpur before resuming my training in Raipur on Monday. I am working on some aspects of my game under the guidance of my coach Sanjay Mishra Sir for further improvement. I want to do well in the BWFs India leg this month to boost my world ranking."
Malvika, who is supported by Vishvaraj Infrastructure Ltd and the GoSports Foundation, came into the limelight by winning selection trials in Hyderabad. Selection trials for the Sudirman Cup and Uber Cup were held at the Pullela Gopichand Academy, and Malvika emerged victorious in them to make the cut for the national selection.