Kidambi Srikanth further etched his name in history of great Indian shuttlers with the Denmark Open Super Series title on Sunday. To further exemplify his achievement, he took only 25 minutes in demolishing South Korea’s Lee Hyun Il 21-10, 21-5 to take home a cheque of $56,000. This is his third Super Series title of the year to go with his wins in Indonesia and Australia while also reaching the final in Singapore where he lost to compatriot B Sai Praneeth.
Srikanth rose to prominence in 2014 with a shock 21-19, 21-17 win over then Olympic Champion Lin Dan in 2014 China Open Super Series Premier to become the first Indian to win a Super Series Premier Men’s title. Later he added high profile titles with India Open Super Series Premier (2015) before the titles in Singapore, Australia and now Denmark in what has been a remarkable year for the 24-year-old.
Known for his aggressive style of play, he has also won Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold (2013), Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold (2015) and Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold (2016). Further down the level, he also won the Maldives International Challenge tournament in 2012. That makes it a collective nine titles and given his form, more seem to be on the horizon.
Among the men, Prakash Padukone is one of the most illustrious players as far as Indian badminton is concerned. The legendary shuttler who trains players of tomorrow now is mostly remembered for his All England Badminton Championship title in 1980 where he beat Indonesia’s Liem Swie King. It was the first All England title for an Indian shuttler and catapulted him to World No 1 ranking – another first for an Indian.
Prior to this he won titles in Denmark and Sweden, also in 1980. He continued his glorious run by winning the Alba World Cup at Kuala Lumpur in 1981 and added the Indian Masters in the same year. In 1982, Padukone won titles in Netherlands and Hong Kong to further his fantastic career. He retired in 1991 after a glittering career.
Another name that bears prominence with Indian badminton is the current coach – Pullela Gopichand. Currently in charge of the likes of Srikanth, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and the rest, Gopichand too enjoyed a strong career even though it was hampered for the most part by injuries. Besides winning multiple national titles, representing India in Thomas Cup, and playing professionally in Germany, his big success on the international stage arrived in 1999 when he won the Toulouze open championship in France and the Scottish open championship. But he reached the peak of his career and earned limelight across the globe by winning the All England Championships in 2001 by beating then World No 1 Peter Gade of Denmark in the semifinals. Almost fitting that he was coached by Padukone and came from his academy as well.
Among the current crop of ladies, Nehwal is the most successful with 21 titles to her name including 10 Super Series titles – the most for an Indian and fourth most overall since the format began in 2007. PV Sindhu is the second most successful female shuttler with 10 titles and three Super Series crowns.