Badminton Yearender 2022: From India’s historic Thomas Cup win to the glorious rise of Satwik-Chirag

From India’s historic Thomas Cup win to Axelsen’s domination in men’s singles to Satwik-Chirag’s rise on the World Tour, here is a look at the top moments from the world of shuttle and racquet in the year 2022.

Published : Dec 26, 2022 17:19 IST

The Indian team after winning the prestogious Thomas Cup.
The Indian team after winning the prestogious Thomas Cup. | Photo Credit: BWF

The Indian team after winning the prestogious Thomas Cup. | Photo Credit: BWF

India wins Thomas Cup

The Indian men’s badminton team scripted history by winning the Thomas Cup for the maiden time in Bangkok. An entire nation joined in celebrations as India, playing the final for the first time in the 72-year history of the event, stunned fourteen-time champion Indonesia 3-0 to claim the trophy.

Prior to this feat, India’s best performance at the biennial event was a semifinal finish in 1979. The Indian team, comprising Kidambi Srikanth, H.S. Prannoy, Lakshya Sen (singles) and Sawtiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty in doubles, defeated five-time champion Malaysia and 2016 champion Denmark to win the prestigious title. 

The Indian badminton stars became the toast of the nation when Srikanth outclassed Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie in 48 minutes to seal the historic victory.

P.V. Sindhu realises quest for Super 500 title, CWG gold

Two-time Olympic medallist P.V. Sindhu added two glittering trophies to her already decorated cabinet by winning her maiden Super 500 title at the Singapore Open and the long-pending Commonwealth Games women’s single gold medal. 

In a year that saw the star shuttler battling injuries and poor form, Sindhu defeated World No. 8, Wang Zhi Yi of China, in the Singapore Open. In Birmingham, the only time she came under pressure was in the quarterfinals when Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei forced her to play a three-game contest. 

Sindhu won the rest of her matches in straight games, including the final against Michelle Li. An ankle injury that she suffered during the CWG forced her to quit the remainder of the season.

PV Sindhu after winning the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medal.
PV Sindhu after winning the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medal. | Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES

PV Sindhu after winning the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medal. | Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Lakshya Sen claims maiden Super Series title

Lakshya Sen is the next big sensation in badminton and the 21-year-old showed glimpses of that in 2022. 

Playing his second season on the World Tour, Lakshya, India’s highest-ranked men’s singles player, won his maiden BWF Super Series title at the India Open in January. He followed it up with a back-to-back runner-up finish at German Open and All England Open, making him the first Indian male shuttler to play the Super Series Premier final in two decades. Pullela Gopichand won the title in London in 2001.

Lakshya was not clinical in the Thomas Cup, losing two crucial ties in the quarters and semis. But in the final, playing the opening bout, he prevailed over higher-ranked Anthony Ginting and gave India an important 1-0 lead. Srikanth and men’s doubles pair Satwik-Chirag rode on the momentum to beat Indonesia 3-0.

Lakshya finished the season with the CWG gold as he beat Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong 19-21, 9-21, 21-16 in the men’s singles final.

Victor Axelsen’s 39-match winning streak

Viktor Axelsen swept the 2022 season, claiming an overwhelming 39-match winning streak - a world record in the discipline - and seven Super Series titles. He surpassed Lin Dan (31) and his own 29-match streak, set between February 2020 and January 2021, that he shared with Lee Chong Wei.

Axelsen started the year by winning the All-England Open in March after he lost to Lakshya in the German Open. Axelsen swept the season ever since, claiming the World Championships gold, the second of his career, all three Super Series Premier titles and the season-ending World Tour Finals. His winning march was finally broken by Loh Kean Yew in the Denmark Open.

The rise of Chirag-Satwik

Satwik and Chirag had a great run in the 2022 calendar year as the men’s doubles pair started the season by winning the India Open Super 500 title. They then played a crucial role in India’s Thomas Cup win as in the final, the duo beat the Olympic gold medal-winning pair of Kevin Sanjaya-Muhammad Ahsan to make it 2-0 in India’s 3-0 clean sweep.

The Indian pair then won the CWG gold on their debut and followed it up with a World Championships bronze - a historic first for Indian men’s badminton. They ended the season with the French Open Super 750 title, becoming the first Indian pair to achieve the feat. By the end of the year, they rose to the career-best ranking of five, the highest standing ever obtained by an Indian doubles pair.

Other big gainers were the emerging women’s doubles pairing of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand. After winning the Odisha Open, the duo created a sensation at the All England Open by reaching the semifinals. They also won the Commonwealth Games bronze medal.

Resurgence of H.S. Prannoy

No Indian shuttler has made it to the prestigious BWF World Tour final this year other than H.S. Prannoy, and that underlined the brilliant comeback story of the 30-year-old.

The men’s singles specialist has been in the form of his life as no player could knock Prannoy out of the qualification zone after the French Open quarterfinals.

Prannoy made such an impact on the world tour that he got the badge of a giant killer. He caught the imagination of the nation when he carved out a memorable win over Denmark’s Rasmussen Gemke to catapult India into the final of the Thomas Cup. Playing with an ankle injury, Prannoy went down 13-21 in the first game and then outplayed Gemke 21-9, 21-12.

Throughout the year, he pulled off several upsets, beating Anthony Ginting, Lakshya, Ng Ka Long Angus, Chou Tien Chen, Kento Momota, Loh Kean Yew, Zhao Jun Peng and World No. 1 Axelsen, the BWF Male Player of the Year.

However, Prannoy could not win a single title on the World Tour. The shuttler capped off the season with seven quarterfinals wins, one runner-up and a third-place finish.

Emergence of Sankar Muthusamy

The year 2022 also witnessed the rise of 18-year-old Sankar Muthusamy, who attained the World No. 1 ranking in the BWF Junior World Rankings in August. In October, the youngster from Chennai finished runner-up in the men’s singles final at the World Junior Championships in Spain, becoming only the second Indian male shuttler to play the final of the sporting spectacle.

In women’s singles, two emerging shuttlers - Tasnim Mir and Unnati Hooda - have announced their arrival. Tasnim became the first Indian badminton player - male or female - to attain the world no. 1 ranking in BWF World Junior Rankings. Unnati, on the other hand, achieved the record of becoming the youngest Indian female shuttler to win a title on the BWF World Tour. She bagged the Odisha Open Super 100 in January.

Akane Yamaguchi retains world crown

Akane Yamaguchi had a roller-coaster 2022 season. Starting with the All England Open title in March, she missed nearly half of the season due to a troubling lower back.

Entering the BWF World Championships in Tokyo in October, she was the reigning champion but not the favourite. Doubts were being cast on her form and fitness. She invalidated those concerns by becoming the first Japanese woman and only the second shuttler after Kento Momota to win two consecutive World Championships gold medals. She followed this showing with the World Tour Finals in Bangkok, the prestigious season finale of the BWF.

Aaron Chia-Soh Woo Yik get finally lucky

Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik have smashed their way into the record books by becoming the first Malaysian pair to be crowned World Champions in Tokyo in August.

In a sensational performance, they beat World No. 3 Mohammed Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan 21-19, 21-14 in the final to claim their maiden Worlds gold.

This title also ended Aaron Chia-Woh Wooi Yik’s semifinal jinx in 2022. The World No. 3 pair had made five third-place and one runner-up finish before claiming the Worlds gold.

He Bingjiao overshadows Chen Yufei

He Bingjiao won an overwhelming four titles on the BWF World Tour calendar. Starting the season with the German Open Super 300 title, she won Korea Masters and finally came out of the shadow of her famous compatriot Chen Yufei in the Europe tour.

In the Denmark Open, the Tokyo Olympics semifinalist, Bingjiao, capitalised on anything short from reigning Olympic champion Yufei and prevailed 22-20, 12-21, 21-10 to claim her maiden Super Series title. On the other hand, Chen Yufei, despite playing eight finals, could win only one title at Indonesia Masters.

Following the Denmark Open triumph, Bingjiao captured her second consecutive Super Series title at the French Open. She beat former Olympic champion, Carolina Marin, 16-21, 21-9, 22-20 in the summit clash. 

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