Saina, Sindhu start favourites

Last Updated 29 January 2018, 12:27 IST

In-form Saina Nehwal and defending champion P V Sindhu will be the cynosure when they start their campaign at the USD 350,000 India Open, starting on Tuesday.

The marquee event will also feature 2014 champion Kidambi Srikanth beginning his new season after missing last week's Indonesia Masters.

Saina, who had clinched the India Open Super Series in 2015, has made a superb start to the new season as she reached the finals of Indonesia Masters after recovering from an ankle injury and would be one of the favourites this week.

Placed in the bottom half, fourth seed Nehwal will face Denmark's Sofie Dahl in the opening round and fifth seed Beiwen Zhang will be her likely opponent in the quarterfinals.

Sindhu, on the other hand, has been simply sensational ever since her Olympic silver medal as she clinched three titles and three silvers last season and rightly received top billing for the tournament here.

The World Championship silver medallist will begin her campaign against Denmark's Natalia Rohde and barring any surprises her real challenge will come in the form of former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in the semi-finals.

Interestingly, Sindhu's campaign at Jakarta was cut short by compatriot Saina in the quarterfinals and there is a realistic possibility that the celebrated duo can again meet in an all-Indian final if they can live up to their reputation.

In men's singles, Srikanth exceeded all expectations with four titles and a runners-up finish last season but a leg injury during the Senior National Badminton Championships in Nagpur affected his game as he had to sit out of the China Open and Hong Open last year.

When he returned to the Dubai Super Series Final, lack of match practice affected his performance as he lost all his three matches in the group stage.

In fact, Srikanth's stint at the Premier Badminton League also didn't turn out well as he lost three matches to see Awadhe Warriors crash out.

The World No 3 Indian also had to delay his start to the new season after a minor injury saw him pull out of the Indonesia Masters at the last moment.

The second-seeded Indian will open his campaign against Hong Kong's Lee Cheuk Yiu and if he can live up to the expectations, there is every chance that he might face off top seed and defending champion Viktor Axelsen in the final.

World number 10 HS Prannoy too have been a revelation last season as he reached the semifinals at Indonesia and French Open and clinched the US Open Grand Prix Gold and the Senior Nationals.

The Indian had a decent outing at the PBL and he will look to start the new season on a positive note when he faces a qualifier in his opening match.

(Published 29 January 2018, 12:10 IST)

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