Like any sport, badminton has evoked fans with countless edge-of-the-seat, heart stopping moments.
These moments are not just defined by victories, but remarkable comebacks produced time and again by some of the best the game has seen.
While we await the return of competitive badminton, let's revisit some of the top badminton comebacks from various circumstances, which ultimately led to victory.
Carolina Marin wins China Open after eight-month injury layoff
An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is one of the biggest setbacks for an athlete, which is what happened to Marin at the 2019 Indonesia Masters final against Saina Nehwal. The Spaniard had to retire from that match and was subsequently subjected to grueling daily 10-hour rehabilitation, coupled with physiotherapy and pool sessions.
Eight months later, she returned at the Vietnam Open and lost in the first round. So when the China Open came along a week later, she was merely expected to ease her way into competitive action. But Marin defied all odds by reaching the final to meet Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying. Despite losing the first set, Marin stormed back to shock the overwhelming favourite to complete her comeback and retain her title.
Lindaweni Fanetri back from the dead to seal World Championships medal
It was the 2015 World Championships showdown for a bronze medal between Tai Tzu-ying and Lindaweni Fanetri, and the Indonesian was on the ropes. Having lost the opener 14-21, she trailed 14-20 in the second set with all the momentum with her Taiwanese opponent. But the Indonesian had the boisterous backing of the home crowd, who packed into the intimidating Istora Senayan in Jakarta.
Fired up by their relentless chanting, Lindaweni went on the offence and forced Tai into several unforced errors. A tremendous forehand smash won her the second game 22-20, and that fightback turned out to be the confidence boost she needed to seal the decider 21-12.
That victory was significant, as Lindaweni ended a 20-year wait for a World Championships medal in women's singles since Susi Susanti won bronze in 1995.
Matsutomo-Takahashi clinch Japan’s first Olympics gold
When the Olympics arrived at Rio de Janerio in 2016, Japan were already an emerging badminton force.
Their women shuttlers were the hot medal prospects then, having seen Mizuki Fujii-Reika Kakiiwa win silver in the women’s doubles at the London Olympics. Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi were intent on going one better, but they were trailing 16-19 to Danish pair Christinna Pedersen-Kamilla Rytter Juhl in the deciding set in the final.
Unflustered, the diminutive Matsutomo fired two winners to level at 19 -19, before two mistakes by the Danes gave them the win. Winning five consecutive points may not constitute a gallant comeback, but put into context the magnitude of their recovery, it simply affirmed Japan as a badminton powerhouse.
Lin Dan topples Chong Wei for a fifth world title
After beating Lee Chong Wei in a pulsating 2012 Olympics final, Lin Dan decided to take a gap year in 2013 to spend time with his family. He made only two appearances that year, at the Asian Championships and the World Championships. He withdrew from the Asian Championships through injury, and everyone thought that was the end of his year.
But the world body granted Lin Dan a wildcard entry for the World Championships in Guangzhou, China due to his popularity. And as fate would have it, he would meet Lee Chong Wei, who had already won four titles that year and looked set to finally claim his first world title, in the final.
Despite losing the first set, Lin Dan stormed back to win the second and eventually won by forfeit after Chong Wei pulled up with cramps.
Chong Wei saves seven match points to beat Lin Dan at Malaysian Open
Of the 12 defeats Lin Dan conceded to Lee, this is one that he will never forget. It was the 2006 Malaysian Open final, the start of both men’s rivalry which Lin Dan looked set to win as he held a 20-13 lead in the deciding game.
But Lee never gave in to nerves, upping the ante with a variety of smashes to claw his way back. Lin Dan was careless in giving away some points, but credit must be given to Lee who forced the issue to deuce before winning 23-21.
That 10-point comeback inspired Chong Wei’s biopic titled Rise of the Legend, which opened to much fanfare in cinemas nationwide in 2018.