Rio Olympics 2016 was an important landmark in the recent history of Indian badminton. It was in the bustling city of Brazil where PV Sindhu put her hands up and announced she was willing to share the burden of being the torchbearer of the sport in the country with Saina Nehwal.
Sindhu's silver medal-winning run at the quadrennial spectacle also brought newer audiences to the sport. The young shuttler's fanbase was next only to some of the big names in Indian cricket and more importantly, it was expanding at a serious pace.
Cut to January 2017, Sindhu was giving it her all in the second season of Premier Badminton League. The packed stadiums at the venues across the country was a testament to her stardom.
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With renewed confidence, the badminton superstar led her franchise, Chennai Smashers, to the title.
Sindhu's first title of 2017 at the international level came at home when finished on the top step of the podium at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. The local favourite could not have asked for a better start to her post-Olympic year as she did not even concede a set en route to the title.
An in-form Tai Tzu Ying proved to be a hurdle for Sindhu at the All England Championships in March, but the Indian shuttler quickly recovered from the setback.
Superstar Sindhu claims revenge
The Siri Fort Sports Complex was packed to the rafters on the evening of April 2. An enthusiastic crowd was cheering the local hope Sindhu, who was taking on Carolina Marin in what was a rematch of the Rio Olympic final.
Sindhu, like many other superstars, did not let the home crowd down. She needed only 47 minutes to claim revenge over the Spaniard, who was undone by her opponent and the intimidating New Delhi crowd.
Kidambi Srikanth, Sai Praneeth create history
Success is contagious, they say! The men's singles shuttlers from the country proved the statement right.
Even as Sindhu was going through a little slump in April, Kidambi Srikanth and Sai Praneeth came up with a stunning show at Singapore Open. The wards of Pullela Gopichand battled for glory in the final and thereby made India only the fourth nation to send two men into the title clash of a Superseries tournament.
Praneeth outclassed Srikanth in three games in the historic final. However, the Singapore Open title match was the last Superseries final the latter lost in 2017.
HS Prannoy joins party
Srikanth began his dream run at the Indonesia Superseries Premier in June, edging past the likes of Jan O Jorgensen and Son Wan Ho to win his third Superseries title and end his two-year major title drought.
The former world number two proved his win in Indonesia was no flash in the pan by winning the Australian Open, his second title in as many weeks.
Srikanth had beaten Chen Long in the final in straight sets. However, it was not the first time in 2017 the reigning Olympic champion had lost to an Indian shuttler.
Days earlier, HS Prannoy had grabbed headlines by stunning Malaysia legend Lee Chong Wei and Chen on the trot before losing in the semi-final of Indonesia Open.
Pullela Gopichand credits Mulyo Handoyo
With their spirited runs in Indonesia and Australia, Srikanth and Prannoy managed to quash doubts over the world-beating abilities of Indian men's singles shuttlers.
Gopichand went on to credit Mulyo Handoyo for the singles shuttlers' new-found consistency. Notably, the Indonesian tactician was roped in by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) earlier in February to assist Gopichand and help reduce the latter's workload. It seems Handoyo did his job perfectly well!
World Championships: Sindhu blockbuster and Saina's spirited show
In Sindhu and Srikanth, India saw potential candidates who could help end their world title drought as both the in-form shuttlers entered the BWF World Championships in Glasgow as contenders.
Saina was in the fray in Glasgow, but the London Olympic bronze medallist was not considered favourite despite having finished on the podium in the previous edition (2015) of the world meet.
Much to the disappointment of the Indian contingent and the fans, India's brightest hope Srikanth exited the high-profile event in the quarter-final. However, Sindhu and Saina kept marching on.
While Sindhu's impeccable display in Glasgow was expected, Saina's spirited show was quite a surprise, given the latter's persistent battle with a knee injury that pegged her back at the Rio Games.
After receiving a first-round bye, Saina eased into the tournament with a straight-set win over Canada's Sabrina Jaquet. However, a stiff test against one of the top seeds, Sung Ji Hyun was awaiting the Indian shuttler.
Saina aced the test. The straight-game win over Sung seemed to have given the ace shuttler a lot of confidence as she went on to beat local hope Kirsty Gilmour in a fiercely-fought quarter-final battle that extended to an hour and 14 minutes.
Sindhu lost a marathon final against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara. A lot has been already said about the fiercely-fought encounter that extended to an hour and 50 minutes. Both the shuttlers pushed each other to the limits in what was an exhibition of the sporting pinnacle.
A couple of unforced errors towards the end saw Sindhu finishing second best, but her relentlessness and spirited display in the big final was a reflection of all the good work done behind the scenes.
Both Sindhu and Saina stood on the podium and flashed their medals, which certainly has to be one of the milestones of Indian badminton in 2017. Notably, Saina encountered Okuhara the day before Sindhu met the Japanese sensation in the final.
Saina reunites with Gopichand
There was more good news for badminton fans in the country as Saina reunited with her former coach Gopichand right after the world meet. The former world number one parted ways with the former All England Champion in 2014, but hunger for more glory after success in Glasgow reportedly forced the former to re-join her long-time mentor.
Meanwhile, it was business as usual for the Indians shuttlers post the world meet.
Much to the surprise of many, Sindhu carried on instead of opting for rest after the World Championships. Incidentally, the Indian shuttler once again met Okuhara, this time in the final of Korea Open.
The two shuttlers served another classic encounter that lasted for an hour and 23 minutes in Seoul. Sindhu was able to hold her nerves better and thus was rewarded with her second Superseries title of the year.
Srikanth finally proves his mettle
On the other hand, Srikanth was redefining consistency. The Guntur lad had struggled to convert promise into results. However, in 2017 he showed himself and the world that he belonged to the elite of world badminton.
Srikanth quickly recovered from the World Championships disappointment to dominate the rest of the pack again. The Indian shuttler was in top form when he won back-to-back Superseries titles for the second time in the year at Denmark and France.
The icing on the cake
The Badminton Nationals held in October was a star-studded affair as the revamped tournament, with increased prize money, attracted top stars. The Badminton Association of India (BAI)'s move to provide exposure to budding shuttlers worked wonders as promising talents had the opportunity to go face-to-face with the established names.
The icing on the cake was the women's singles final between Sindhu and Saina, which the latter won to prove she is not done yet.
Sindhu fails to cross the final hurdle, yet again
Sindhu, amid much fanfare in Dubai, reached the final of BWF World Superseries Finals in December. However, she once failed to cross the final hurdle -- an area of concern which the superstar shuttler will be focusing in the coming year.
After a resounding year, the shuttlers will be keen on building on their success in 2018. With major international meets -- Asian Games and Commonwealth Games -- lined up in the coming year, badminton fans can expect more fireworks.
Other impressive performances
Lakshya Sen: Won two series-level tournaments in his first year as a senior player. The former world junior number one broke into the top-100 of senior rankings for the first time in December.
Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty: The men's doubles pair, which started the year at world number 68, finished 2017 at 31, thanks to quarter-final appearances at Korea and France Superseries tournaments.
Notably, Satwiksairaj was also nominated for BWF's Most Promising Player of the Year award, which eventually went to China's Chen Yufei.