Indians at 2021 All England Open men's singles: The shuttlers' best performances so far
Prakash Padukone became the first Indian male shuttler to win the All England Open back in 1980. He followed it up with another brilliant show and bagged the runners-up medal in 1981.
In 2001, Pullela Gopichand became the second Indian male player to win the coveted title. Since then no male badminton player has been able to reach the finals of the event.
Parupalli Kashyap reached the quarterfinals in 2013 and HS Prannoy in 2018 which remain the best performances from India's male shuttlers since Gopichand's win in 2001.
In the upcoming All England Open, six Indian male players have made it to the main draw of the men's singles. They are H.S. Prannoy, Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma and Kashyap.
Let us take a look at their best performances in the past in this championship.
P Kashyap (Quarterfinals 2013)
Parupalli Kashyap reached the quarterfinals in 2013 which remains his best performance in the All England Open to date.
In the first round that year, he took on Hsu Jen-Hao of Taiwan. After an even battle, it was Kashyap who held his nerves and won the first game 21-17.
It was an even contest in the second game as well, but Kashyap's quality shone through as he trumped over his Taiwanese opponent 21-17, 21-18.
In the second round, he clashed against Japanese player Kenichi Tago. Little separated the two players in the first game but Kashyap showed his resilience to win it 21-18. In the second game, he put his best foot forward and blew away his rival 21-12.
However, in the quarterfinals, he met second seed Chen Long. The Chinese was becoming a force to reckon with on the badminton circuit and showed his quality, stopping the Indian in his tracks 21-16, 21-10.
HS Prannoy (2018 Quarterfinals)
Prannoy, who had a fruitful 2017, had a good campaign at the 2018 All England Open.
In the very first round, he had to go up against eighth seed Chou Tien-Chen of Taiwan. With the odds steeply stacked against him, he produced a brilliant performance to win the match.
Despite being blown away 21-9 in the first game, he bounced back in style. In the second game, he matched his opponent as the rallies grew long. Prannoy would tire out Chou as the game got stretched and he won the game 21-18. In the decider, Chou brought to the fore all the tricks up his sleeve but the Indian had an answer for them all. In a tightly fought battle, Prannoy won the third game with the same scoreline (21-18) and progressed to the second round.
It turned out to be an easy match though as he locked horns against Tommy Sugiarto, comfortably winning in straight games 21-10, 21-19.
In the quarterfinals, he faced Huang Yuxiang and the Birmingham crowd witnessed one of the most hotly contested clashes of that edition.
Prannoy just about edged the first game 22-20. The two shuttlers went hammer and tongs from the word go and threw every resource at each other. In the second game, Huang won it 21-16 to even the match. In the third game that went the distance, Prannoy could not hold his nerves in the end, which his opponent exploited to win it 23-21.
Kidambi Srikanth (2018 Second Round)
By 2018, Kidambi Srikanth was in blistering form, with his ranking shooting up to No.2 (He would attain the world number one ranking in April 2018, two weeks after the All England Open). He was the third seed at the All England Open but had a tough start.
His French opponent Brice Leverdez won the first game of their opening-round match (21-7) with consummate ease. But he showed strong character to come back into the match and win two successive games (21-14, 22-20) to progress to the Round of 16.
However, he could not keep up his form and lost in the second round to Huang Yuxiang. He was outplayed 21-11 in the first game. The Indian came back to win the second 21-15, but once again lost in the decider 22-20 to bow out of the tournament.
B Sai Praneeth (2016 Second Round)
It was a stroke of luck for Sai Praneeth that he got the chance to participate in the All England Open in 2016 as P Kashyap withdrew from the tournament with a knee injury. In the very first round, he had a tough opponent in second-seeded Malaysian Lee Chong Wei.
The match started as expected with Lee racing on to a 15-7 lead in the first game. He had three game points but Praneeth came back strongly to win the opener 24-22. Losing the first, Lee started the second game as strongly as he could with the intention of thrashing his lesser-known opponent whom he had beaten earlier quite comfortably. At one point he was leading 16-10 but Praneeth stepped on the accelerator and soon it was19-all. The Indian kept his composure and went on to win the match in straight games 24-22, 22-20, much to the surprise of almost everybody.
He carried his superlative form in the second round as well and won the first game 21-12 against Swiss opponent Hans-Kristian Vittinghus. However, in the next two games, he could not keep up his intensity and lost 11-21, 16-21.
Sameer Verma (Second Round 2016)
Sameer Verma reached the second round of the All England Open in 2016.
He prevailed over Hu Yun of Hong Kong in straight games (21-10, 21-14) in the first round. But then crashed out in the second round to Tian Houwei of China 21-10, 12-21, 19-21.
Lakshya Sen (2020 Second Round)
The 19-year old shuttler reached the second round of the All England Open in 2020.
In the first round, he beat Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong. After losing the first game he won two successive games to pocket the match 21-17, 8-21, 17-21.
In the second round, he clashed against second seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and lost in straight games 21-17, 21-18.