These players kept the Indian flag flying high in the tournament.

The Denmark Open is back for another year and Indian shuttlers have mostly started the tournament on a positive note. Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu has returned to action for the first time since winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Sindhu has started really well, winning her first match against Turkey’s Neslihan Yigit.

The highly-rated Indian pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were amazing in the Thomas Cup a few weeks ago and they have carried that form to Denmark. It’s been a solid start from the doubles duo, as they look ahead to facing tougher opposition deep into the tournament. Former champion Kidambi Srikanth eased past his compatriot B Sai Praneeth in the first round and will go up against World No.1 Kento Momota in the second round.

Since the Denmark Open’s inaugural season in 1935, only three Indians have won the prestigious BWF Super Series. While a lot of people are expecting big things from PV Sindhu and Rankireddy-Shetty, we take a look at the three Indians who have won the tournament in the past:

Prakash Padukone (1980)

The flag-bearer of Indian badminton in the 80s and 90s, Prakash Padukone was the first Indian to win the Denmark Open back in 1980. It was in that year, that Padukone also became the first Indian shuttler to achieve the World No. 1 spot. The Arjuna and Padma Shree awardee has been a trailblazer and a man of many firsts in Indian badminton.

The Indian shuttler defeated local favourite Morten Frost in the 1980 final of the competition. Before the tournament, he had a long training session in Denmark, trying to get acclimatized to the climate and the country and that definitely reflected in his play.

Kidambi Srikanth (2017)

It took 37 years for another Indian male shuttler to clinch the title of Denmark Open. In 2017, Kidambi Srikanth created history when he won his maiden BWF 1000 Super Series title. The former World No. 1 defeated Korean shuttler Lee Hyun-il 21-10, 21-5 in the final to achieve this feat.

It was a time period when Srikanth was going through a purple patch in his career. The Indian was exceptional at the 2017 edition of the tournament, as he overcame several top players to clinch the prestigious title. After beating compatriot Subhankar Dey, Srikanth faced Jeon Hyeok-jin in the second round. It took him three close games to beat the South Korean. The challenges kept coming his way, as he faced local favourite Viktor Axelsen in the quarterfinal.

Despite losing the first game, the Indian shuttler came roaring back to win the second 22-20. The turnaround broke Axelsen’s morale, as Srikanth dominated the third game to seal the match. The 28-year old dominated world badminton during those couple of years. However, Srikanth has no time to dwell on memories, as he will be facing the current World No. 1 Kento Momota in the next round of the 2021 Denmark Open.

Saina Nehwal (2012)

While Prakash Padukone laid the foundations of Indian badminton, Saina Nehwal made sure she built her legacy on them, a legacy that would inspire the entire nation to pick up a racquet. In 2012, Saina Nehwal became the second Indian to win the Denmark Open title and the first Indian female to achieve this feat.

Saina is also the most successful Indian shuttler in the history of the Denmark Open, as she has won the title in 2012 and finished as a runner up in 2018. Her triumph in 2012 was sensational, as she beat the then World No. 1 Wang Yihan in the semi-final and then overcame the challenge of Juliane Schenk in the final. The most fascinating fact about her win was that she did not drop a single game in the entire tournament.

She reached the final of the Denmark Open in 2018. En route to the summit clash, Saina defeated players like Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara in the second and third rounds respectively. However, she finished second-best in the final against Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu-ying in a three-game encounter.

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