What’s the story?
The Crown Group Australian Open Superseries that is scheduled to start at Sydney, Australia from June 20, has witnessed some major withdrawals just one day before the action begins. Second and third seeds Viktor Axelsen and Lee Chong Wei will not participate in this event.
World No. 15 Qiao Bin and the 45th ranked Ihsan Maulana Mustofa will be the other notable absentees.
Among the Indian shuttlers, the Verma brothers – Sourabh and Sameer – too have opted out.
In case you didn’t know...
The Australian Open is a prestigious badminton tournament Down Under that had its first edition in 1975. Saina Nehwal is a two-time winner of this event as well as the defending champion.
Last year, she defeated Chinese star Sun Yu in three gruelling games to clinch the title.
The heart of the matter
No specific reason has been given for the withdrawals of the Verma brothers although it is suspected that they are still getting accustomed to the new and improved training method implemented by the Indonesian coach, Mulyo Handoyo. The shuttlers are looking to use this break to come back fitter and stronger.
The 31st ranked Sameer last played a competitive tournament at the Singapore Open where he crashed out in the first round. His elder brother, Sourabh played the Thailand Open after that and lost in the pre-quarter-finals.
Irrespective of their absence, India will still be represented by a large contingent at the Australian Open 2017.
On the men’s side, all eyes will be on Srikanth Kidambi and HS Prannoy after their stunning performances in Jakarta last week. Ajay Jayaram and Singapore Open champion B Sai Praneeth are the other Indian contenders who have a direct main draw berth.
While the qualifying rounds are scheduled for June 20, main draw play starts on the following day.
The whole of India will be anxiously waiting to see if the Indian men can continue their dazzling performances and take the spotlight away from their superstar women counterparts once again.