Stats: Has PV Sindhu finally overtaken Saina Nehwal? The numbers say yes!
The BWF World Championships 2017 are underway in Glasgow, Scotland and for Indian fans, there are high hopes of multiple medals this time around, given how the nation's shuttlers have been excelling at tournaments across the world. India is one of just three nations to have sent the full quota of four players in the men's and women's singles to the premier tournament, with the latter featuring the full complement for the first time in 32 years.
On Day 1, Rituparna Das and Tanvi Lad booked their passage into the second round and on Tuesday, PV Sindhu will kick off her campaign against Korean Kim Hyo Min. 12th seeded Saina Nehwal, on the other hand, will play her first match against Sabrina Jacquet the next day, hoping for a winning start as she looks to better her silver-winning performance from 2015.
The two have been the flag-bearers for Indian badminton for almost half a decade now and are the only shutters from the nation to have won medals at the Olympic Games. Saina, who won the bronze medal in London in 2012, is a former world number one and has won a total of 20 career titles (Grand Prix level and above), the first of which came way back in 2006.
Sindhu, who won the silver medal last year at the Rio Olympics, has trailblazed her way to the top and has won eight titles of her own on the circuit, the first coming in 2013. She has two consecutive World Championship bronzes to her name that she won in Guangzhou and Copenhagen.
The duo has made the nation proud numerous times on the international circuit and has hit incredible highs in the world rankings, with the senior shuttler having reached the top spot in 2015. However, in the last two years, she has been overtaken by Sindhu on the charts, with the 22-year-old currently sitting in fifth place, while Saina is placed 16th.
Ever since Sindhu burst on to the stage, comparisons between the two shuttlers have been inevitable, with every tournament win or loss raising questions over who holds the upper hand. The duo have faced each other twice and in the first meeting at the India GP Gold in 2014, it was Saina who won in straight games. However, it was Sindhu's turn to return the favour in their next clash, as she defeated her senior at the India Open SS earlier this year on her way to winning the title.
So, who has had the upper hand since Sindhu's arrival to the big-time? Has she overtaken Saina or does the former world number one still hold her own? Here's how they have performed on the international circuit (GP Gold and higher) ever since the youngster's first major title!
Sindhu reached the final of the Syed Modi GP Gold in 2012 but lost out in the final to Linda Finetri. Subsequently, she won her first major title in 2013 in Malaysia and added another at the Macau Open towards the end of the year. At just 18 years of age, she also became the first Indian female singles player to win a medal at the World Championships, winning bronze.
She repeated the feat in 2014, adding another bronze to her tally, at the premier event held in Denmark. She also defended her Macau Open crown that year, defeating Kim Hyo Min in the final. Next year, was another strong year for the up and coming star as she became triple-champion at the Macau Open and reached her first Superseries final at the Denmark Open.
In 2016, she finally won her first Superseries crown at the China Open along with the Malaysia Masters. She reached the final of the Hong Kong Open SS too, where she went down fighting to Tai Tzu Ying.
This year, she hit a purple patch at home, remaining unbeaten in two straight tournaments to win the Syed Modi International and the India Open.
Titles won: 8
Runners up finishes: 3
World Championship medals: 2
Since 2013, Saina has recorded quite a few creditable performances as well. She did not reach any major final that year but in 2014, she won numerous trophies. She defeated Sindhu in the final of the India GP Gold and won the Australia Super Series, ousting Carolina Marin in the decider. She added the China Open SS Premier to her tally as well, becoming the first Indian woman to do so.
Next year, she defended her Syed Modi crown and reached the final at the All-England SSP, losing out narrowly to Marin. She then won her first-ever India Open title in March, which ensured her of top spot in the world rankings. Saina went from strength to strength and picked two more runners-up finishes - first at the World Championships and then at the China Open.
She struggled with injuries in 2016 but recorded a strong showing in Australia once again, winning her second title there after defeating Sun Yu in the final. Her performance in Rio was hampered by a serious knee injury and she is struggling to hit top gear ever since. Her only title this year came at the Malaysia Masters, defeating Pornpawee Chochuwong in the final.
Titles won: 7
Runners up finishes: 2
World Championship medals: 1
The numbers seem to suggest the youngster has outperformed her senior compatriot since her arrival to the big time. It will be interesting to see how the two perform at the World Championships and if they can finally get India the elusive gold.