New Delhi, Jan 16 (Ajit Weekly News) The India Open — upgraded to the Super 750 status for the first time — will kickstart on Tuesday at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, here.
With a galaxy of badminton stars gracing the prestigious tournament, defending champions Lakshya Sen and men’s doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have their eyes set on retaining their title in front of the home crowd.
Moreover, defending men’s doubles champions will also be vying for their career’s second Super 750 title, having won the French Open last year after beating the Taipei duo of Lu Ching-Yao and Yang Po-Han. The Indian duo had scripted history after their 2022 French Open as they became the first Indian men’s pair to win the Super 750 title.
In the men’s singles, Lakshya, HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth have all been placed in the same quarter, which means only one Indian can progress to the men’s singles quarterfinals.
Lakshya and Prannoy will square off in the opening round. Last week, the latter prevailed in a thrilling three-game contest to level their head-to-head 3-3. However, he went out in the quarters of the Super 1000 to eventual finalist Kodai Naraoka. The winner faces either Rasmus Gemke (Denmark) or Kento Momota (Momota) with a potential quarterfinal clash against Olympic champion Axelsen.
On the other hand, Srikanth had a tough opponent in the form of Axelsen, the Malaysia Open champion. The Indian ace is trailing 3-9 in the pairs Head-to-Head record.
In the women’s singles, two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu, who is on a comeback trail after a 5-month injury break, seeded fifth in the tournament will be eyeing to get back to the winning ways after suffering first-round exit from the Malaysia Open Super 1000 last week. Last year’s semifinalist, Sindhu, will begin her campaign against Thai shuttler Katethong Supanida. The winner will take on either Yvonne Li or Kristy Gilmour (Scotland).
Saina Nehwal is drawn into Sindhu’s quarter and will begin against Mia Blitchfeldt. The winner will have Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei in the next round. If Saina upsets the Olympic champion then there will be a Sindhu vs Saina face-off in the quarterfinals.
Last edition’s semifinalist Aakarshi Kashyap starts against former India Open champion Beiwen Zhang. While Malvika Bansod will play Thailand’s world no 11 Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the preliminary round.
In men’s doubles, the world No. 7 pair Chirag and Satwik, who defeated Indonesia’s three-time world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan in the final to clinch their maiden India Open title, starting against Denmark’s Jeppe Bay and Lasse Molhede.
The opening round win will see the Indians facing Chinese combination Liu Yu Chen & Ou Xuan Yi, whom they beat in a thrilling comeback last week, or English pair of Ben Lane Sean Vendy, whom they trounced in the 2022 Commonwealth Games final last year, with a potential quarterfinal against top seed Japanese Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi.
MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, who withdrew from Malaysia last week, face a stiff challenge against sixth seeds Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen of Denmark in their opener.
Arjun and Dhruv met the Danes earlier in the World Championships last year, their only meeting so far, where the Indian staged a huge upset over the Danish combination with a straight sets win. Another pair, Krishna Prasad Garaga & Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala start against the French duo of Ruben Jille and Ties Van Der Lecq. A win will see them against Ahsan and Setiawan.
India’s top-ranked women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand faces Frenchwomen Margot Lambert and Anne Tran. A win will take them to a clash against the sixth seeds Chinese Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu in the second round.
Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam, who reached quarters last year, will play Commonwealth Games 2022 champion pair eighth seeds Malaysian Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan, which will be their career’s first meeting.
Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Castro, India’s only entry in mixed doubles, will be up against Netherlands’ Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek.
–Ajit Weekly News
News Credits – I A N S