All England Open 2019: Saina, Sindhu, Srikanth get tough draw
One of the most prestigious tournaments in the world -- the All England Open Badminton Championships -- will be held this year between March 6 and March 10, in Birmingham, Great Britain.
India last won this championship 18 years ago when the underdog Pullela Gopichand stunned various higher-ranked players to claim this coveted trophy in 2001.
But since then, it was only once in 2015, it looked possible that India might win this title again as Saina Nehwal made it to the championship final. But unfortunately, she went on to lose the final to Carolina Marin.
This year for the very first time, three Indians have been seeded -- two in Women's singles and one in Men's Singles. But the road ahead won't be easy as all the Indians participating in this tournament have been given a very tough draw.
Sindhu has been seeded 5th in this tournament. She will be facing Korea's Sung Ji Hyun in the opening round. The head-to-head record between both these players is 8-6 in favour of Sindhu, although Sung had won two of the last three encounters against Sindhu.
Saina has been seen in great form lately as she won the Indonesia Masters 500 event. But she is likely to face world no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the quarter-finals. Saina had lost her last 11 encounters against Tai.
Carolina Marin got injured during her final at the Indonesia Masters against Saina Nehwal and as a result, she won't be participating. She is expected to make her comeback by the end of August this year.
In Men's Singles, the seventh seeded Kidambi Srikanth will be facing Frenchman Brice Leverdez in the opening round. He is expected to face world no. 1 Kento Momota in the quarter-finals. Last year's best Indian performer in men's singles, Sameer Verma will start his campaign against Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
In women's doubles, the unseeded Indian duo of Ashwini Ponnapa and N Sikki Reddy will be facing seventh-seeded Japanese duo of Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto.
In Men's Doubles, the young duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy won't be playing in this tournament due to some injury problems that Satwiksairaj faced during the PBL. In their absence, the only Indian duo representing India in Men's doubles will be that of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy. They will start their campaign against the Chinese duo of Ou Xuanyi and Ren Xiangyu.
In Mixed doubles, the duo of N Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra will start their campaign against the Hong Kong Duo of Chang Tak Ching and Ng Wing Yung.