Sindhu, Saina, Srikanth in focus at Badminton Worlds (Preview)
Olympic silver medallist P.V. Sindhu, a hungry Saina Nehwal and a reinvigorated Kidambi Srikanth will be in focus when the World Badminton Championships begin here on Monday.
Sindhu, seeded fourth, will be one of the favourites in the women’s singles and the 22-year-old’s big tournament temperament will help her handle the pressure.
The double World Championships bronze medallist has continued her impressive display even after the Rio Games 2016. She has won the 2016 China Open and 2017 India Open in style.
The lanky shuttler has got a bye in the opening round and will meet the winner between South Korea’s Kim Hyo Min and Egypt’s Hadia Hosny for a place in the pre-quarterfinals.
Japanese Akane Yamaguchi, Olympic and double defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain and South Korean Sung ji Hyun have been seeded above Sindhu and the Indian will have to step up her game in the tournament where India has never won a gold medal.
“I have two bronze medals from World Championships. I want the colour of my medal to change this time,” Sindhu told the tournament’s official website.
Her illustrious citymate, Saina, however, is coming off with some low-key performances and though the expectation is less from her, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist will be eager to prove her mettle again against the younger opponents.
Saina, who had claimed the only silver for India at the World Championships in 2015, underwent right knee surgery after a devastating outing at the Rio Olympic and since then she has not been able to regain her strength fully.
Barring a Malaysia Masters title, there’s not much to be talked about her success post-Rio.
Having fallen behind in the pecking order, the 27-year-old has been seeded 12th and got a bye in the first round. She will meet either Switzerland’s Sabrina Jaquet or Ukraine’s Natalya Voytsekh in the Round of 32.
However, the performances of India’s men’s singles shuttlers have been impressive this season. Srikanth, who nursed an ankle injury after Rio, is brimming with confidence after two Superseries titles in Indonesia and Australia and a final appearance in Singapore Open.
Eight-seeded Srikanth will open his campaign against Russia’s Sergey Sirant on Monday.
B. Sai Praneeth, who defeated Srikanth in Singapore for his maiden Superseries title, will be another interesting prospect. The 15th seed will face Hong Kong’s Wei Nan in the first round.
Sameer Verma, who bagged the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold title in Lucknow, will meet Spain’s Pablo Abian in the opening round.
Ajay Jayaram, 13th seeded, will battle Austrian Luka Wraber in the first round.
The Indians, if they reach the last four may fight it out against veterans Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long and top-seeded Wan Ho Son.
India’s men’s doubles hopes hinge on Olympians Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who will face South Koreans Chung Eui Seok and Kim Dukyoung in their opening tie.
Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy, Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S. Ram, and Sanjana Santosh and Arathi Sara Sunil are India’s representatives in the women’s doubles category.
Ashwini will pair up with Sumeeth in the mixed doubles. Another important mixed doubles pairing for India will be Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki. The pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and K. Maneesha K. is India’s third challenge in this category.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)