Indian men’s singles players were handed a tough draw with Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen and HS Prannoy — all clubbed together in the same quarter at the Yonex Sunrise India Open badminton tournament, scheduled to be held in New Delhi from January 17 to 22.
Former world champion and double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu will face her last edition’s nemesis Supanida Katethong in the opening round of the BWF World Tour event, which has been upgraded to Super 750 category this year.
Reigning champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will, meanwhile, begin their men’s doubles campaign against Denmark’s Jeppe Bay and Lasse Molhede, ranked no. 31 in the world.
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The fifth seeded duo would target a potential quarterfinal clash against top seeds Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi of Japan, in what would be the first major hurdle in their title defence.
The trio of Srikanth, Prannoy and Sen will carry India’s hopes in the tournament but given the draw only one can cross the last eight hurdle, which includes reigning World and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen, China’s Shi Yu Qi and Japan’s Kento Momota.
Defending champion Sen will begin his campaign against compatriot Prannoy and the winner of the match is likely to run into Momota, who is looking to return in 2023 after struggling for form this year.
Former champion Srikanth has to overcome the challenge of top seed Axelsen in the opening round with a potential clash against Shi, who has made a strong comeback after being out of action for almost 10 months.
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Among others, fifth seed Sindhu faces Kathethong in the repeat of last edition’s semi-final clash, which the Indian lost in three games.
The former world champion, who has been out of action due to a heel injury since the Commonwealth Games in August, has a potential quarterfinal clash against Chen Yufei.
Former world no. 1 Saina Nehwal, who had a forgettable season with injuries, will kick off her campaign against Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt.
Bansod, Kashyap get a chance to make a mark
Malvika Bansod and Aakarshi Kashyap have managed to avoid a top-10 opponent in the opening round of what will be their first appearance at the Super 750 level.
World no. 30 Bansod will take on Thailand’s world no. 11 Busanan Ongbamrungphan, while Kashyap, world no. 32, meets former India Open champion and world no. 26 Beiwen Zhang of USA in the opening round.
In men’s doubles, world no. 21 MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila will face sixth seeds Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen of Denmark in the opening round, while Krishna Prasad G and Vishnuvardhan Goud P begin their campaign against Netherlands’ Ruben Jille and Ties Van Der Lecq.
In women’s doubles, All England semi-finalists Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand Pullela will face France’s Margot Lambert and Anne Tran in the opening round, while Ashwini Bhat K and Shikha Gautam will open against eighth seeds Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan of Malaysia.
India’s only entry in mixed doubles, Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Castro will face Netherlands’ Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek.
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