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International year in review 2017

With senior players still setting the bar high and an exciting plethora of youngsters bursting onto the scene, 2017 has been a year to remember in international badminton.

There have been comebacks, drama, titles galore and some major shocks as another 12 months of shuttling draws to a close.

Here, we pick out some of the best moments, players and results from the world’s courts in the past year.

BEST MOMENTS

New faces stand atop YONEX All England podium

Never mind the Olympic Games or the World Championships, from a very young age, winning the YONEX All England crown is the stuff of dreams – the ultimate goal and a lifetime ambition.

And while Lee Chong Wei's title in March was his fourth, he was joined atop the podium by a heap of new faces, seven years since his first crown.

For women’s doubles winners Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee, their triumph left a beam permanently adorning their faces, as it did for Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the men's doubles.

Tai Tzu-Ying, Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong also celebrated glory for the first time in a truly memorable week.

Axelsen on top of the world

Viktor Axelsen’s 2017 has thrown up a string of titles, but the undoubted crowning glory is the Dane becoming world champion for the first time.

His victory over the legendary Lin Dan in Glasgow saw him become the first Danish player to win the world crown in 20 years and the third ever, after Flemming Delfs in 1977 and Peter Rasmussen in 1997.

That Rasmussen success also came in Glasgow, with Axelsen not holding back either in his straight game 22-20 21-16 victory.

Sindhu vs Okuhara

Anyone who saw PV Sindhu take on Nozomi Okuhara in the TOTAL BWF World Championship final can count themselves lucky.

That final produced several epic exchanges, including one 73-shot rally, lasting 80 seconds, leaving both players flat out on the courts exhausted as the match was forced into a decider.

Okuhara's clinical and gutsy display saw her become the first Japanese woman to win a world singles championship. The 110-minute epic finished 21-19 20-22 22-20.

TOP PLAYERS

Viktor Axelsen

The 23-year-old Dane finished off 2016 with a Dubai World Superseries victory, a triumph which set the tone for his tremendous 2017.

He continued a quirky tradition of a Danish shuttler winning the world championships after successes for Delfs and Rasmussen in 1977 and 1997 respectively.

Other 2017 triumphs for the Scandinavian include the YONEX SUNRISE India Open in March-April and the DAIHATSU YONEX Japan Open in September, a victory in the latter catapulting him to the top of the world rankings for the first time in his career.

Tai Tzu Ying

The Taiwanese shuttler became number one in the women’s singles rankings in December 2016, and a year of searing and entertaining success has kept her at the top of the tree throughout this calendar year.

She picked up her very first YONEX All England crown, while also winning gold medals in Malaysia, Singapore, France and Hong Kong to show her to be the dominant force in the BWF Superseries.

Chen Qingchen

Young Chinese stars Chen Qingchen and Zheng Siwei have firmly established themselves as the team to beat in the mixed doubles.

They defended their Dubai World Superseries crown in December, adding to victories in Australia and Malaysia.

Qingchen has also enjoyed considerable success in the women’s doubles circuit with Jia Yifan. The pair triumphed in Hong Kong, China and Indonesia, as well as winning world women’s doubles gold in Glasgow.

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo

No fewer than seven Superseries medals went back to Indonesia with Gideon and Sukamuljo, with victories in England, India, Malaysia, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Dubai also joined by silver medals in Denmark and Korea.

The pair were named BWF Best Male Players of the Year for their incredible feats.

BEST PHOTO

So many special moments have been forever captured throughout 2017, but this, showing Viktor Axelsen’s utter disbelief at winning his first world title, is a wonderful encapsulation of the release of emotions after leaving everything on court. 

Photo: Badminton Photo