Top class action in prospect

It has been a steady climb for Indian shuttlers in world badminton in the last few years. Many are yet to crack the top echelons but they certainly have made their presence felt with consistent performances. 
The Yonex Sunrise India Open, beginning here on Tuesday at Siri Fort Sports Complex, will once again give them the opportunity to challenge themselves against the best in the business.

The tournament this year has gotten tougher. The top Chinese players, who had skipped this Super Series event in the past, have confirmed their participation. As a result, all the top 10 players in women’s singles and eight out of the top ten men’s singles players will make it the strongest field in the tournament’s history.

The meet, which has increased its prize money from $200,000 to $250,000 this year, will also serve as a dress rehearsal for the Thomas and Uber Cup, to be held at the same venue in May. The top players will be looking to get a hang of the conditions.

Saina Nehwal (World No 8) and PV Sindhu (World No 9) will lead the challenge of Indian women in the singles competition.  Saina will be eager to make a mark after an injury plagued 2013. She is aware of the growing expectations to win the Super Series title at home having endured early losses in the previous three editions. “I am fit and eager and will show my worth this season in a perfect manner,” said Saina, who opens against Simone Prutsch of Austria.

Sindhu, 18, reached the quarterfinals in 2012 before going one step further last year. She realises her progress is been scrutinised by her opponents but the Hyderabadi prefers to focus on self improvement. A familiar opponent in World No. 3 Wang Shixian, whom she has beaten in all their meetings, in the opening round has not dulled her spirits.

In the men’s singles event, national champion K Srikanth, ranked 22, will lead a host of upcoming Indian shuttlers comprising Sourabh Verma, HS Prannoy, RMV Gurusaidutt and the experienced Parupalli Kashyap. Not to forget Bangalore’s Arvind Bhat, who has resurrected his career with the German Open title.  Bhat, however, will have to qualify for the main draw and plays Malasyian Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif first.

The usual suspects will be leading the charge in both the men’s and women’s singles – Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and China’s Li Xuerei respectively.

Lee, the defending champion, will be the man to beat and is fresh from winning his third All England title. Apart from the Chinese trio of Xuerei, Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian, Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon is the other top gun in fray.

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