Charting PV Sindhu’s course through world badminton rankings

PV Sindhu had a career-best ranking of world No. 2 and has been inside the top-10 since November 2016.

By Rahul Venkat
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Two-time Olympic medallist, world champion and BWF World Tour Finals champion, PV Sindhu is India’s most decorated badminton player in history.

A talented player from the outset, PV Sindhu won the Asian junior championships in 2012, beating famed rival Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the final.

The Indian badminton star had already played in a senior event in 2009, at the India Open that season, and was ranked world No. 255 at the end of that year.

PV Sindhu first came to prominence when she won bronze at the 2013 BWF World Championships. She has since improved steadily year-on-year and her rise up the badminton rankings reflect that progress.

Making it to the top 100

PV Sindhu’s first big jump up the rankings came in February 2010, as she rose from 255 to world No. 168 -- jumping 87 places -- after reaching the final of the Iran Fajr International Challenge, where she lost to Japan’s Rie Etoh.

The then 15-year-old hovered in the world No. 160-190 region, before rising from 187 to world No. 154 in June 2010 after a round of 16 appearance in the India Grand Prix Gold tournament.

She was still playing junior-level tournaments then and reached world No. 150 in January 2011. It was the year when PV Sindhu started regularly playing at the senior level.

She rose to world No. 103 after winning the Indonesia International Challenge in July 2011. PV Sindhu cracked the top-100 a week later, being ranked world No. 98 on August 4, 2011.

The youngster was soon world No. 75 in September 2011 after a quarter-final appearance at the Vietnam Grand Prix Open.

Titles at the 2011 India and Swiss International Challenge tournaments and a runners-up finish in the 2011 Dutch Open meant that PV Sindhu ended the year ranked world No. 31.

A watershed 2012: Breaking into the top 20

The fast-rising PV Sindhu entered the top-30 in January 2012 and played in her first All England Open in March that year, losing the round of 32 to the now legendary Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.

A few mixed results followed but she soon celebrated the Asian junior championship title in July.

In September 2012 came the watershed moment for PV Sindhu in her fledgling senior career. She stunned then Olympic champion, China’s Li Xuerui in the quarter-finals at the China Masters before bowing out in the semi-finals.

PV Sindhu entered the top-20 after the event, being ranked world No. 20. She ended the year with a run to the final at the Syed Modi International tournament, where she fell to Lindawei Fanetri of Indonesia and ended 2012 as world No. 19.

PV Sindhu enters the top 10

PV Sindhu rose up the ladder, being ranked world No. 13 in May 2013 after a semi-final run in the India Open and winning the Malaysia Grand Prix Gold title.

PV Sindhu first cracked the world’s top-10 in August 2013, being ranked world No. 10 following a stirring run in the BWF World Championships, where she fell in the semis to eventual champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.

It gave PV Sindhu the bronze medal, making her the first Indian shuttler to win a BWF World Championship medal. She had beaten Chinese stalwarts Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian - it was her second victory over Wang Shixian that year - en route to the bronze medal.

She ended 2013 with the Macau Open title to be ranked world No. 11. PV Sindhu’s ranking remained steady through 2014 and 2015. She won bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2014 BWF World Championships and won three consecutive Macau Open titles.

PV Sindhu missed action in the first three months of 2015 due to an injury and dropped down to world No. 14, her lowest rank of this period, in May 2015.

However, she soon overcame that and began 2016 with the Malaysia Masters title and a few early exits later, landed a historic Olympic silver medal at Rio 2016.

A China Open title, a run to the final at the Hong Kong Open and semis at the 2016 Superseries Finals meant that PV Sindhu ended the year as world No. 6, her then-highest ranking.

PV Sindhu rises to a career-best No. 2 ranking

Now a legitimate contender at the top level, PV Sindhu started 2017 with the Syed Modi and India Open titles, beating nemesis Carolina Marin of Spain in the final of the latter.

That result played a big part in catapulting PV Sindhu to a career-best ranking of world No. 2 on April 6, 2017, only behind Tai Tzu Ying.

She stayed in the top-five for the rest of 2017 and reached her maiden BWF World Championships final that year, falling just short in an epic duel with Nozomi Okuhara.

PV Sindhu won the Korea Open and made the final at both the Hong Kong Open and the Dubai Superseries Finals, ending the year as world No. 3.

Since then, the Indian badminton ace has been at her best in big tournaments, winning the inaugural BWF World Tour Finals in 2018 and silver medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and BWF World Championships.

After consecutive silvers, PV Sindhu became India’s first badminton world champion in 2019, downing Nozomi Okuhara in the final.

She also created history at the Tokyo Olympics, winning the bronze medal to become the first Indian woman and only the second Indian athlete - after Sushil Kumar - to win two individual Olympic medals.

In this incredibly successful period, PV Sindhu has been ranked inside the top-10 since November 2016.

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