In 2022, India achieved historic success by winning the Thomas Cup, marking one of the pinnacle moments for Indian badminton. While 2023 didn’t replicate the same level of triumph, it remained a closely contested and competitive year.
In 2023, the poster boys of Indian badminton, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, have been the most successful Indian shuttlers. Their dominance in the Asian circuit has been a testament to their abilities.
They are the Asian champions. While Satwik and Chirag were the cynosure of all eyes in 2023, comeback man HS Prannoy brought out his best at 31, underlining another remarkable facet of Indian badminton.
Lakshya Sen, on the other hand, showed sparks of his regained mojo after recovering from a nose surgery.
In 2023, India achieved its most remarkable performance at the Asian Games, with the shuttlers returning home with three medals. With gold, silver and bronze in their pockets in three different events, this marks India’s best badminton performance at the games.
As we approach December, the end of the round-the-year badminton season, The Bridge reflects on the top moments that defined Indian badminton in 2023, a year filled with significant achievements and milestones:
Satwik-Chirag and their moments of reckoning meaning
In June this year, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first Indian men’s doubles pair to clinch gold at the Badminton Asia Championships.
Their victory marked a significant achievement, as they became only the second Indian gold medallists in the history of the tournament and the first in 58 years. The duo’s remarkable accomplishment added a new chapter to India’s presence in world badminton.
Following up on this magnificent feat, Satwik and Chirag achieved another historic feat by winning the Indonesia Open Super 1000 title – the highest tier of title on the BWF World Tour.
This victory marked a special moment for India: no other Indian doubles pair could win a Super 1000 event in the past. It was also special because Satwik and Chirag won the tournament in their maiden appearance in a Super 1000 final.
Adding to the significance, they defeated their long-time rivals Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the final, a duo who held an 8-0 record against the Indians until then.
The sweet taste of success was followed by a challenging period, marked by early exits in three consecutive tournaments following an injury comeback.
In July, continuing their winning streak, Satwik and Chirag secured the Korea Open Super 500 title, making it back-to-back victories in a month’s gap between both wins.
In an impressive display, they defeated the then world No. 1 pair of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Ardianto to claim the title.
In October, Satwik and Chirag achieved a historic milestone by securing India’s first-ever badminton gold at the Asian Games.
Their victory appeared effortless and almost inevitable, coming just a week after they comfortably defeated the Chinese men’s doubles pair in the men’s team final.
Following these wins, they ascended to the world No. 1 ranking in men’s doubles, becoming the first Indian pair to achieve the milestone.
Satwik, at 23, and Chirag, at 26, are still in the early stages of their careers, and their impressive trajectory sets the stage for even greater achievements and heightened expectations ahead of next year’s Paris Olympics.
Lakshay Sen clinched the Canada Open Super 500
Lakshya Sen secured the men’s singles title at the 58th Canada Open 2023, delivering a stellar performance in an electrifying final.
Sen won over Li Shi Feng, the reigning All England Open champion, in straight games. This victory, Sen’s second BWF World Tour title since 2022, stands as a significant addition to his growing list of accomplishments.
Sen showcased exceptional skill and composure, winning over Shi Feng, in a match filled with extraordinary rallies and fast-paced exchanges at the net.
With tight control and the ability to maintain pressure, Sen secured a 21-18, 22-20 victory, marking his fifth win in seven meetings against the Chinese player.
Notably, Sen demonstrated resilience by saving four game points in the second game before sealing the championship point with a decisive smash. The victory sparked a jubilant celebration on the court, highlighting Sen’s remarkable feat.
The steely resolve of HS Prannoy
Indian badminton player HS Prannoy secured a bronze medal in the men’s singles category at the BWF World Badminton Championships 2023 at the age of 31. His journey to the podium included a stunning win over world no. 1 Viktor Axelsen in a three-setter in the quarterfinal.
Prannoy is the fifth Indian men’s singles player to secure a medal at the BWF World Badminton Championships.
Kidambi Srikanth stands as the sole Indian to reach the men’s singles final, achieving this milestone in 2021. Prannoy’s achievement adds to the legacy of Indian badminton and his effort to make a comeback at this stage of his career.
At the Asian Games, Prannoy faced the added challenge of a back injury that cast doubt on his ability to give his best.
Undeterred, Prannoy persevered and competed with a taped-up back during the quarterfinals against Malaysian Lee Zee Jia.
Despite a setback in the second game with a 21-23 loss, Prannoy showcased remarkable resilience, staging a memorable comeback with a 22-20 victory in the decisive set. This bronze medal, achieved against the backdrop of injury, adds another significant accolade to Prannoy’s illustrious badminton career.
First ever Mixed Teams final at the Asian games
Another noteworthy moment for Indian badminton enthusiasts was the men’s team event silver. Following a hard-fought victory against South Korea in the semifinals, India had high hopes for a historic maiden gold medal at the Asian Games.
But the absence of HS Prannoy in the final turned out to be the decisive factor.
Lakshya Sen and the doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty gave India a massive 2-0 lead and set the stage for a 3-0 clean sweep against China.
However, despite the promising start, the men’s team couldn’t capitalise on their lead, and China rallied back, winning the next three games. The likes of Kidambi Srikanth, Mithun Manjunath, and the men’s doubles pair Sai Pratheek and Dhruv Kapila could not pull off the gold medal.
India still returned home with their best-ever show from the Asian Games.
This was India’s only silver in the men’s team event and fourth medal overall at the Games, ending a 37-year gap since the Syed Modi-led team secured a bronze in Seoul in 1986.