Seven things we learnt from the 2019 Badminton World Championships

Three of the five titles were successfully defended, but there was plenty more to take away from the World Championships in Basel

By Sanjeev Palar ·

Three defended titles, a maiden world champion, and an undefeated pair.

The 2019 BWF World Championships did not disappoint.

With the best players in the world gathered in Basel, we were treated to a spectacular week of badminton, which threw up a few upsets along the way.

With 247 matches played over seven days, it was a big task to keep track of everything that happened on court so here's seven things that we learnt from the 2019 Badminton World Championships.

1) PV Sindhu is India's golden girl (finally)

P.V. Sindhu became the first Indian player to win gold at a BWF World Championships.

It's been a long wait for her and the nation to stand on top of the podium. The event's inception was in 1977.

Sindhu clinched the women's title in her third final, by avenging her 2017 loss to Nozumi Okuhara.

With two bronze medals from 2013 and 2014, as well as silver from 2017 and 2018, the 24-year-old also equaled the record of legendary Chinese player Zhang Ning by clinching her fifth world championships medal.

But it must be said that the the tournament in Basel was missing three-time world champion and reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin, who is recovering from injury.

The Spaniard, who denied Sindhu of not only the world championship title in 2018 but also Olympic gold in 2016, should be back in the mix at Tokyo 2020.

And this title could just be the confidence boost that Sindhu need to tip the odds in her favour at the next Olympic games.

2) Kento Momota is in a league of his own

The Japanese favourite's title defense was executed to perfection.

Momota was flawless in Basel, winning all six of his matches in straight sets enroute to his second world crown.

In the final, the 21-7, 21-3 scoreline against Denmark's Anders Antonsen set a new record for the best ever result in a World Championship final.

The men's singles field will be leaving Switzerland with a lot to think about and they will no doubt be watching all of Momota's games to try and find his Achilles heel.

At the moment, the 24-year-old looks to be at the top of his game and there's no reason to see that changing in the near future, making him the clear favourite for gold at Tokyo 2020.

3) Japan are in good form for Tokyo 2020

Barring any injuries, the Japanese can expect a good medal haul from badminton at the next Olympics, and you can be sure that they'll be aiming for gold in their home Games.

They ended this campaign with two golds, three silvers, and a bronze medal to top the medal table.

With Momoto set to lead the charge in the men's singles, it's hard to see Japan's domination of the women's doubles event ending anytime soon.

The final in Basel was saw their two best players Mayu Matsutomo and Wakana Nagahara defend their title by narrowly beating, once again, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in the finals.

They became only the sixth women's doubles pair to win back-to-back world titles.

The next Olympic Games hosts are so dominant in this event that all four of their women's doubles pairs in Basel, made it through to the quarter-finals stage, with reigning Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi missing out on the medal.

The biggest problem they have in this event, given that they can only send two to the Games, will be which pairs to send!

The women's singles line-up is also strong despite Akane Yamaguchi's early exit. Okuhara proved she's ready to step up should the her higher seeded compatriot run into trouble.

Men's doubles pair of Takuro Hoki and Yogo Kobayashi were the unexpected finalist, while Yuta Watanabe and Arisa and Higashino managed mixed doubles bronze.

All of which is a ominous reflection of the depth of their current squad.

4) The "Daddies" can still dish it out

Indonesia set themselves a modest target of winning one title in Basel.

And while most of the attention was on top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, it was the more experienced pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan who delivered gold in the men's doubles.

Fondly known as the "Daddies", the 31-year-old Ahsan and 35-year-old Setiawan continued their unbeaten record at the worlds as a pair to pick up their third title, adding to their 2013 and 2015 triumphs.

It's Setiawan's fourth title, having won in 2007 with former partner Markis Kido.

But Indonesia's wait for a men's singles title continues after Jonatan Christie could only get as far as the quarter-finals.

The country's top seed couldn't find a way past India's Sai Praneeth, who also knocked out their other title hopeful, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, in the second round.

Their women's doubles pairing of Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu did deliver a medal. Their run to the semi-finals saw them clinch bronze medal, as they did in Nanjing a year ago.

5) Lin Dan maybe down but he's certainly not out

The five-time world champion Lin Dan suffered his earliest exit at the worlds since his debut in 2013.

'Super Dan' was knocked out by India's H.S. Pranoy in the second round, but his early exit has seemed to only spur a desire to qualify for his fifth Olympic Games.

The Chinese player told reporters in Basel that his "goal is always the Tokyo Olympics and that doesn’t change.”

“All I’ve done and what I will endeavour to keep doing in training and competitions is to try to qualify for Tokyo. Knowing the journey will be extremely difficult, I will try as hard as I can." - Lin Dan

If Lin Dan wants to get one of the two men's singles tickets available to China, he needs to leapfrog two gold medallists in the qualification standings - reigning Olympic champion Chen Long as well as 2014 Youth Olympic Games winner Shi Yuqi, who is the highest ranked player of the three.

China's Lin Dan at the 2019 BWF World Championships

6) There's life after Lee Chong Wei

Malaysian badminton fans can breathe easy knowing that there's still good reason to cheer in the men's singles.

Many would have feared that their medal hopes retired along with Lee Chong Wei, especially with him declining a coaching role for now.

However the country's top man, Lee Zii Jia (no relation), had a solid run in the worlds, making it as far at the quarter-finals.

It's not a bad effort for the fourteenth seed, who beat Japan's eighth seed Kenta Nishimoto to make it to the last eight.

You can't fault him for going down to eventual champion Kento Momota, in what was only his maiden worlds outing.

However it's the performance of the country's pairs that is more concerning.

After winning three silvers at Rio 2016, Malaysia's prospects of a medal at Tokyo 2020 look slim given that most of their pairs were knocked out in the early stages of competition with only Olympic mixed doubles silver medallist Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying making it as far as the quarter-finals.

7) Time for Thailand to shine

Thailand had their best worlds outing in recent years.

They medalled for the first time since Ratchanok Intanon's gold in 2013.

While Intanon is still a formidable force, delivered bronze in the women's singles, men's singles player Kantaphon Wangcharoen was probably the find of the tournament.

The 20-year-old pulled off a major upset in the third round when he defeated India's seventh seed Srikanth Kidambi.

He then went on to announce himself in the quarter-finals defeating second seed Chou Tien Chen.

Wancharoen became the first male player from Thailand to medal at the worlds with a bronze.

The mixed doubles fourth seeds of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai managed to delivered silver, signalling that their chances of clinching a maiden Olympic badminton medal in Japan next year, is very well within reach.

Thailand's Kantaphon Wangcharoen

19 - 25 Aug 2019

BWF World Championships - Basel