What next for Indian women’s badminton after Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu? Not much

The gap between the two Olympic medallists and the rest in the women’s singles circuit is huge.

Indian men are enjoying a purple match in the world badminton circuit. An Indian has won three Superseries titles and recorded two runners-up finishes in men’s singles since the Rio Olympics.

India’s men have also showed the depth in numbers for the last few years. India currently have four shuttlers in the top-25 and six in the top-35 in men’s singles. Four of them will be playing in the World Championship in August.

On the women’s side, however, it is a completely different story. Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu are the only two Indians in the top-40. The gap between Nehwal’s No 15 and the next-best ranked Indian is huge. In fact, there are only five other Indian women in the top 100.

Nehwal and Sindhu have held India’s flag high in the world of badminton for the better part of the last decade. While Nehwal, at 27, won’t be around for long, Sindhu is just 21, in the world’s top five and has perhaps not even reached her peak. India seems sorted on the women’s singles side for at least the next five years with Sindhu. But what after her?

Rituparna Das

Age: 20

World ranking: 47

Win-loss record: 65-33

Biggest senior international title win: 2016 Polish International

Twenty-year-old Rituparna Das is the reigning national champion, but has struggled to make much of an impact in international tournaments. Considered the most talented among the second rung, Rituparna has constantly struggled with her fitness and is very injury prone. Apart from her title win at the 2016 Polish International, she hasn’t won anything of note. She reached the quarter-finals of the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold in January, before playing her first ever Superseries tournament at the India Open, where she lost in the round of 16 to Olympic champion Carolina Marin. At the Singapore Open Superseries, she was beaten in the first round itself by Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Ya Ching. She lost in the first round again at the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold to eventual champion Ratchanok Intanon.

Tanvi Lad

Age: 24

World ranking: 63

Win-loss record: 58-70

Biggest senior international title win: 2014 Bahrain International Challenge

Tanvi Lad first came into the spotlight by winning the 2014 Bahrain International Challenge, after finishing runner-up at the tournament in 2012 and again at the Swiss International a year later. She has also done reasonably well in team events, winning bronze at the 2014 Asian Games and the Uber Cup in 2014 and 2016. However, despite being 24 years of age, she has never broken into the top 50 in the world and struggles to get past the opening rounds of Superseries and Grand Prix Gold tournaments. Lad has qualified for the 2017 World Championships in Glasgow, but her negative win-loss record would point towards another early exit.

Ruthvika Shivani Gadde

Age: 20

World ranking: 64

Win-loss record: 89-36

Biggest senior international title win: Gold at 2016 South Asian Games

Ruthvika Shivani Gadde has won the national championship in Under-10, 13, 15, 17, 19 and seniors, but her biggest claim to fame is beating PV Sindhu in the final of the 2016 South Asian Games women’s singles tournament. Another significant title win was at the Russian Open Grand Prix last year, when she was just 19. Another budding prospect from India’s chief national coach P Gopichand’s academy, Gadde has age on her side to launch an assault up the rankings, where her highest position so far has been No 49. In the last 12 months, she has struggled with jaundice and injuries and that has affected her progress.

Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli

Age: 19

World ranking: 79

Win-loss record: 19-20

Biggest senior international title win: None

Sri Krishna Priya is a new kid on the block and has surprisingly risen the world ranking graph despite making her senior circuit debut only last year. She learnt the basics of the sport under Mohammad Ali and then trained under SM Arif before joining the Gopichand academy. The 19-year-old has represented India in the Asian and World junior meets and also reached the finals of two All India Ranking tournaments last year.

Saili Rane

Age: 24

World ranking: 100

Win-loss record: 71-54

Biggest senior international title win: None

The diminutive youngster from Mumbai has been a regular face on the national and international circuits for a few years now. While she has registered a few good wins in the last few years, Rane hasn’t managed produce consistent results even at the national level.

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