Recently crowned world champion PV Sindhu will look to clinch the $1,000,000 China Open World Tour Super 1000 tournament beginning in Changzhou (China) on Tuesday (September 17).
The World No. 5 will look to reassert her supremacy by leading the Indian campaign after her historic feat which ended India’s long wait for a world championship gold at Basel, Switzerland last month.
She lifted the title after the third successive appearance in world championship finals, turning her fate from Indonesia Open Super 1000 event in which she reached the finals.
Sindhu received a grand reception when she returned to her hometown Hyderabad and life has all been about felicitations since then. She will try to now shift her focus back to the upcoming games as she remains the country’s best bet at the China Open, a title she had won in 2016.
The 24-year-old from Hyderabad will begin her campaign against China’s Li Xuerui, a former Olympic gold medallist and World No.1.
Interestingly, Sindhu had announced her arrival on the international scene when she had stunned the then Olympic champion Li at the China Masters in 2012.
Since then, Sindhu has reached the highest echelons of international badminton, while Li has been dealing with a career-threatening knee injury that she suffered at the Rio Olympics.
The Chinese is currently ranked 20th but has a 3-3 record against Sindhu.
Sindhu had beaten Li at the Indonesia Masters earlier this year and if she can cross the opening hurdle, she is likely to face Canadian Michelle Li, who hasn’t beaten the Indian since 2014.
If she’s able to make it to the quarter-finals of the tournament then she might be up against China’s third seed and All England champion Chen Yufei.
Other players to watch out for
Indonesia Masters champion this year, Saina Nehwal will look to put up a tough competition following her recovery from injuries which affected her performance this season.
The World No. 8 looked good at the world championships before a few controversial umpiring decisions ended her run when she lost to Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark in second round.
The former World No.1 Saina will fight Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand in the opening round and is expected to face world no.1 and her nemesis Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals.
Upcoming China Open tournament which starts on Tuesday (September 17) will also mark the return of Olympic champion and three-time world champion Carolina Marin and 2017 World Champion Viktor Axelsen. The last Super 1000 event of the World Tour season, will be sporting the two bigwigs making a comeback after recovering from their respective injuries.
After the withdrawal of Kidambi Srikanth due to a knee injury which flared up during the world championships and HS Prannoy’s back out with dengue, all the eyeballs will now be on B Sai Praneeth.
Praneeth, who ended India’s 36-year wait to become the first Indian male shuttler to claim a medal at the World Championships will face Thailand’s Suppanyu Avihingsanon in the opener and is likely to compete with China’s third seed Shi Yu Qi in the second round.
Former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap too will be in the fray, taking on Frances Brice Leverdez in the first round.
Returning to action after an injury lay-off, the pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who became the first men’s pair from the country to win a super 500 event at Thailand Open last month will also be eyeing the title.
The duo, who had broken into the top 10, will face Canadian combination of Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura.
In mixed doubles, Satwik will pair up with Ashwini Ponnappa and meet Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti, the Indonesian sixth seeds.
The other men’s pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy will square off against the second-seeded Indonesian pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.
Ashwini and N Sikki Reddy, the Commonwealth Game bronze-medallists, will fight it out against the Taiwanese combination of Cheng Chi Ya and Lee Chih Chen in women’s doubles, while Sikki and Pranaav Jerry Chopra will lock horns with Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich.
(With inputs from PTI)