BWF World Championships 2018: SWOT Analysis of Medal Charge Led by Sindhu and Srikanth
India might be sending an 18-member strong squad for the BWF World Championships 2018 in Nanjing, China, but as usual there are four shuttlers (all singles) who could bag a medal for the country. While Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy would lead the charge in men’s singles, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal would fight it out in the women’s singles. News18 Sports takes a look at the potential medal winners at the event:
PV Sindhu (Getty Images)
India might be sending an 18-member strong squad for the BWF World Championships 2018 in Nanjing, China, but as usual there are four shuttlers (all singles) who could bag a medal for the country. While Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy would lead the charge in men’s singles, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal would fight it out in the women’s singles. Apart from this bunch of talented players, India has Satwiksairaj Reddy and Chirag Shetty who remain best bet in the doubles section. The pair is ranked 25 in the world at the moment and has made immense improvement in last few months. They have an outside chance of winning a medal. In the women’s doubles and mixed doubles, the team of Ashwini Ponnappa/ Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra/ Sikki Reddy would look to go the distance in the tournament. News18 Sports takes a look at the potential medal winners at the event:
After the legendary Prakash Padukone, there has been no Indian male shuttler who has impressed like Srikanth. Immaculate technique coupled with will to succeed in whatever tournament he plays is what makes him so special. Last year, the Guntur lad took rapid strides towards greatness as he won four Superseries titles. Although he has been a big hit in these tournaments, he hasn't quite turned on the heat when it comes to world events, be it the Olympics or World Championships. With the WC around the corner, Srikanth, who has had a decent run this year, would like to add a medal here in his kitty.
Strength: What separates Srikanth and rest of the players is his temperament. He is unfazed by pressure situations and is known to give his best on the court. Also, when he is on song it is hard to match his strokeplay and can easily get past the toughest of opponents. That quality was at full display during the Commonwealth Games where he breezed past former world no 1 Lee Chong Wei with utmost ease 21-17, 21-14.
Weakness: The Indian is devastatingly good on fast courts, but if that is not the case, Srikanth could be found wanting in his movement. His performance depends a lot on the conditions in Nanjing, China. Apart from that his opponents would want to target him on the net. More often than not he looks uncomfortable with rallies that move close to the net.
Opportunity: Looking at the draw and his current form, Srikanth is certainly a medal prospect. He would be eager to end his quarter-final jinx at the world meets. If he manages to do that, he will be assured of a bronze at least.
Threat: Ever since Japan's Kento Momota's return to the professional circuit, Srikanth has won two battles against him. If he manages to reach the semis, he would be under pressure to perform well under Momota. But the latter has comeback with renewed vigor and hunger and Srikanth doesn't seem to be having answers for him at the moment.
There is no doubt that Sindhu is one of the leading shuttlers in the world and she will be in medal contention once more. If one looks at her achievements, she stands a notch higher even than Saina Nehwal, having won an Olympic silver to go with three World Championship medals. But this time she would eyeing nothing less than a gold.
Strength: There was a time when Sindhu wasn't the best with her defensive play. But that is a thing of the past now and now the Hyderabadi has developed a patient game that allows her to frustrate her opponents with her defence and net play.
Weakness: What could hinder Sindhu's progress in the World Championships is that she tends to lose focus at crucial junctures and can concede points in a bunch. Also she is a player who thrives with the crowd behind her. If that is not the case, the going could get tough for her.
Opportunity: Sindhu has every possible accolade to her name in the sport. But she is from that unfortunate crop of players who just cannot cross the final hurdle. That is motivation enough for her to go the distance and get another medal for the country at the coveted championship.
Threat: Women's singles is the most closely contested category at any event. Any player from the top 20 is capable enough to stun Sindhu and end her tournament. The Indian would also be meeting her nemesis, Nozomi Okuhara is the quarter-finals and it would be difficult to overcome her.
Experts call him the most attacking shuttler, and for a reason. He can look the very best look ordinary when he gets going. Prannoy, with the immense talent he possesses, has been a late bloomer. Having entered the top 10 rankings now, he would be looking to live up to the billing and return with a medal from China.
Strength: Prannoy has emerged as a big match player, one who performs well in pressure situations. His fearless play can take him far in the tournament. The one who is always in the attack mode, Prannoy could prove to be a handful for the world's best.
Weakness: There have been matches where Prannoy was the underdog but managed to register an easy win, and vice versa. Call it complacency, he has a knack of losing battles against not-so fancied opponents. This is one grey area he will have to conquer.
Opportunity: Riding high on confidence after the Asian Badminton Championship bronze, he has a chance to shine at the championships. He will bump into Lin Dan in quarters and a win there will ensure a medal for him.
Threat: Prannoy has had a long history of injuries. This time round he is entering the tournament with a shin niggle that could restrict his movement on the court.
After her serious knee injury, Nehwal is back on the court. But her form has been patchy to say the least. She has been picking and choosing tournaments of late with and has enjoyed little success. Last year at the World Championships she surprised one and all with a bronze. Now it's time for her to show her class again.
Strength: She has a wide range of shots and covers the court well. This means that there are not many chances for her opponents score winners over her.
Weakness: After the career-threatening injury, she might not be the swiftest on the court. Despite her comeback last year, it is safe to assume that she might not still be 100 per cent. Her opponents would make her move all over the court and tire her.
Opportunity: With nothing to prove to anyone, Nehwal would look to have a good tournament. That could work well in her favor and won't play under pressure like other Indian stars.
Threat: Nehwal has already set her sight on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but this World Championship will serve as a reality check. She faces Carolina Marin in the quarters that could end her campaign.
Men's singles: Sameer Verma, HS Prannoy, B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth
Women's singles: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu
Men's doubles: Manu Attri/ Sumeeth Reddy, Satwiksairaj Reddy/ Chirag Shetty, MR Arjun/ Shlok Ramchandra, Tarun Kona/ Saurabh Sharma
Women's doubles: Sanyogita Ghorpade/ Prajakta Sawant, Meghna Jakkampudi/ Poorvisha Ram, Kuhoo Garg/ Ningshi Block, Sikki Reddy/ Ashwini Ponnappa
Mixed doubles: Praanav Jerry Chopra/ Sikki Reddy, Satwiksairaj Reddy/ Ashwini Ponnapp, Saurabh Sharma/ Anoushka Parikh, Rohan Kapoor/ Kuhoo Garg
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