All eyes on Srikanth Kidambi as the top Indian shuttlers return to the Senior National Championships
Having conquered Europe, the World No. 2 Srikanth Kidambi will set his sights on the domestic circuit as the main draw action gets under way at the 82nd Senior National Badminton Championships in Nagpur, Maharashtra on Monday. The Guntur-born ace has been a champion in BAI’s flagship event in 2013 long before he started dominating the Superseries circuit.
Now after tasting twin success at the back-to-back events in Denmark and France, the 24-year-old will hope to replicate those results at home. The top seed begins his campaign against Aryamann Tandon and is expected to face the eighth seeded Shubham Prajapati in the quarter-finals.
Things could get interesting in the semi-finals as the fourth seed Ajay Jayaram lurks in his half. Qualifier Lakshya Sen, who is the 2016 runner-up, could also be a big threat to Jayaram in the last-eight stage.
Prannoy would hope to continue his good form
In the bottom half of the draw, the second seeded HS Prannoy is the biggest star. The Kerala shuttler, who bowed out to Srikanth in the French Open semi-finals, would also like to continue his brilliant run in the domestic circuit when he opens his challenge against Chirag Sen on Monday. He should be all the more hungry since he has never laid his hands on the trophy at this tournament.
Fifth seed and former champion Parupalli Kashyap is likely to be his quarter-final opponent. It gets trickier in the semi-finals with the third seed and Singapore Open Superseries winner Sai Praneeth being a possible obstacle for Prannoy’s title ambitions.
Defending champion Sourabh Verma and former champion Sameer Verma have pulled out, citing injuries.
Saina vs Sindhu final in the offing
PV Sindhu, a twice winner of this event, is expectedly the top seed in women’s singles. After a relatively easy opener against Revati Devasthale, her first challenge could come from the rising star, Shriyanshi Pardeshi, who is seeded seventh. The youngster performed well in the recently-concluded Inter State Inter Zonal Badminton Championships where her team, Madhya Pradesh finished as the runners-up.
The World No. 2 Sindhu also needs to be wary of Ruthvika Shivani Gadde, whom she might have to lock horns with in the semi-finals. Gadde, who has been touted as the next big star for some time, got the better of Sindhu in the final of the South Asian Games in early 2016.
Two-time champion Saina Nehwal is the second seed and begins her quest for her third title against Vrushali Gummadi. Eighth seed Reshma Karthik or junior World No. 14 Aakarshi Kashyap could be her opponent in the last-eight before Nehwal gets to meet the fourth seed Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli, who has made rapid strides of late.