Who are the Underdogs defeated Top Stars in Badminton?

By: Swetha Reddy
Date: 08 Aug, 2018
Image Courtesy: PBL

Few stories capture an audience’s attention like spirited underdogs who somehow, someway, reach the pinnacle of the game. Whether it’s an upstart player knocking off an established champion, or an unheralded shuttler pulling off a massive upset over what looks like an unbeatable opponent, underdog stories can resonate for months, years, and decades and inspire others to attempt the same astonishing feats.


Sometimes the best moments happen when none is expecting them to and that’s what makes upsets and underdogs stories so special.


Here are the underdogs who defeated top badminton players:


Resurgence of Iskandar at India Open 2018:


The then world no. 86 unseeded Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, had been in the headlines since his upset victory over the second seed Kidambi Srikanth in the qualifier round at the India Open 2018.


The Malaysian was the spotlight who also defeated Sameer Verma in the quarter finals round and lost to Shi Yuqi in the round-of-4.


For former world no. 21 Iskandar, it’s not just his career’s greatest win over Srikanth at the India Open but also a second success over Sameer in six years after winning at the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold in 2012.


Prannoy’s mettlesome victory over Lee Chong Wei


Prannoy created the great upset after defeating Lee back-to-back in the pre-quarters of the Denmark Open Super Series and the Indonesia Open Super Series last year.


At Denmark Open badminton tournament, Prannoy survived the scare outplaying Lee in 64-minute hard battled round 2 match.

Prannoy ticked-off another name, this time against the five-time World Champion Chinese Lin Dan for the second time in the opening round of the Indonesia Open 2018.


This was the Indian shuttler’s second win in three outings against the legendary Chinese. However, it was their first meeting in almost three years, after the French Open first round clash in 2015.


Defeating the international stars, Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, had been the greatest achievements to not only for Prannoy, but also for the country. The Indian does not have much of titles in his kitty, but the pride of ousting the legends.


Beiwen Zhang’s dual jolts at India Open 2018 on the Indian queens:


The self-funded player Beiwen Zhang, ousted local favourites Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu at the India Open 2018 in the Quarter-Finals and the Finals respectively, after breathing down their neck.


Intriguingly, Zhang went down the wire towards the summit clash at the tourney without her coach travelled with her. Sitting in the chair behind the Indian's side of the court was Pullela Gopichand. The chair in Zhang's corner meanwhile, was undisturbed.


Gao defeated Sindhu at the China Open SS in 2017:


The 19-year-old Chinese Gao Fangjie trounsed the Indian PV Sindhu with the confidence from the home crowd and she had nothing to lose; she entered the second round after her opponent Nozomi Okuhara retired in the first round and in pre-quarters, the teenager produced great results to upset world no. 21 Jang Mi Lee of Korea in straight games.



Can we consider this as an emergence of China’s next generation to challenge India?


Viktor’s unbelievable Worlds 2017 win over Lin Dan:


World no. 1 Viktor Axelsen’s biggest challenge was the World Championships in Glasgow last year after the Olympics. After ousting Chen Long in the Semi-Finals, Axelsen had to face the uphill task of emulating fellow Danes Flemming Delfs, who had won the inaugural 1977 title, and Peter Rasmussen, the winner of the 1997 edition. And the opponent? The five-time world champion and the greatest shuttler to have graced the court ever,  Lin Dan, his inspiration.


Before we amazed with the underdog’s performance, the winner himself was inconceivable with the culmination.




Later, defending champion Viktor Axelsen bid a adieu to Lee Chong Wei in the summit clash at the 2017 World Superseries Finals in Dubai. This coming could be seen after his impressive victories in the previous contests.


Latter, who failed to clinch his fifth World Superseries Finals went down in the close encounter with 21-19, 19-21, 15-21 in 84 minutes at the Hamdan Sports Complex, UAE.


World no. 2 was very close in winning the 12th meet with Viktor, who had 2-9 win-loss record previously, but lost the momentum in the second game


Are we missing any underdogs? Let us know in the comment section below.

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