At 9:45 AM today, Kidambi Srikanth will step on to the Olympic Stadium in Sydney with a chance to create badminton history — with a chance to bring a third badminton ‘superseries’ cup to India within one year.
A victory for the Indian player will also mean that Indian players would have won three out of the six superseries tournaments this year.
The first cup was won by his teammate HS Prannoy at the Singapore Open two months ago, and the second one by Srikanth himself at the Indonesian open earlier this month.
Srikanth, currently ranked 11 in the world, will face Olympic champion and former world No.1 Chen Long in the Australian Open today.
Superseries refers to the 12 elite tournaments held under the aegis of Badminton World Federation every year, starting with the All England championships in March, followed by those in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Korea, Japan, Denmark, France and China.
The 12 tournaments lead to a finals at the Dubai World Superseries, and the Dubai champion is crowned the BWF superseries overall winner for the year.
No Indian has won the overall championship in many years, and the leaderboards have been dominated by the Chinese and Malaysian players.
However, Indian badminton has seen a bit of a renaissance in recent years, thanks largely to Pullela Gopichand’s badminton academy.
The academy, controlled by former Indian player Pullela Gopichand, accounts for practically all the top Indian shuttlers, including Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap and HS Prannoy.
With increasing success, Gopichand has been able to bring in another legendary coach, Indonesia’s Mulyo Handoyo, to assist him, and this seems to have helped the players break out of the ‘quarter final circuit’ and into the finals this year.
Both Prannoy and Srikanth entered the finals at the Singapore open, which was won by Prannoy, while Srikanth knocked out Sai Praneeth in the quarter finals of the ongoing Australian Open.