These players have made the nation proud over a long period of time.
After a disappointing Denmark Open campaign, the Indian badminton contingent looked to revive their form in a BWF World Tour Super 750 tournament known as the French Open. However, they failed to achieve any success in the tournament as no Indian shuttler managed to reach the final of the competition in their respective categories.
Even the two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu faced a 21-18, 16-21, 12-21 defeat against world No. 15 Sayaka Takahashi to crash out of the tournament. The world No. 7 only managed to reach the semi-finals and will hope to improve her performance in the forthcoming tournaments.
The French Open is Sindhu’s second appearance on the court since her bronze medal victory at the Tokyo Olympics. Saina Nehwal also featured in the competition despite struggling with injury troubles. The promising doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who caught the eye at the Olympics, struggled against some top players.
However, the young Indian players punched above their weight consistently in the last two tournaments and gave the nation a lot to be hopeful for. All encouraging signs aside, the current French Open has not gone as expected for India. However, let us take a look at some of the Indian men who have won the French Open singles title in the past.
4. Vimal Kumar (1983, 1984)
One of India’s most well-known badminton players in history, U Vimal Kumar is a two-time French Open champion. The Kerela-born shuttler won back-to-back titles which is almost an unimaginable feat for an Indian, especially back then.
Vimal Kumar went on to do great things for badminton in India. He is the co-founder, director and currently chief coach of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy. He has also played a role in the success of Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap as their coach. In fact, Saina Nehwal gives a lot of credit to Vimal Kumar for his help in dealing with injuries and achieving success.
He has also been awarded the Dronacharya Award in 2019.
3. Siddharth Jain (2000)
After the success brought to the nation in the form of Vimal Kumar’s titles, it took over 15 years to see the French Open title come home again. Much like other successful Indian shuttlers, Siddharth Jain was also a graduate of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy. In fact, he was from the same batch as Pullela Gopichand. The duo shared a very healthy rivalry over the years.
Even though Siddharth Jain did not make it higher than world No. 38 and the French Open was his greatest achievement, he is known for his technique to date.
2. Abhinn Shyam Gupta (2001)
Just a year after Siddharth Jain’s achievement, Abhinn Shyam Gupta made no mistake in bringing the French Open title home. The Allahabad-born shuttler played competitively at the highest level for India between 1998 to 2005. He is also an Olympian and represented the tri-colour nation in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Abhinn Shyam Gupta even coached PV Sindhu for a brief stint in 2012. He was also the recipient of the Arjuna Award in 2004/05.
1. Kidambi Srikanth (2017)
It was Kidambi Srikanth who brought hope back to the men’s badminton section in India. The Hyderabad-born shuttler ended a long drought to win the French Open title in 2017. He defeated Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto in straight games to lift his sixth Superseries title. Srikanth’s win at the French Open was his last Superseries title. Despite a promising stint of trophies, his fall off since then has left many heavy-hearted.
The former Denmark Open champion lost in the second round to Kento Momota in straight games in the ongoing French Open. It has been a disappointing string of results for the Indian shuttler who will be keen to get his mojo back.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist has been awarded the Padma Shri in 2018 along with the Arjuna Award in 2015.
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