BWF World Championships: Promising draw for PV Sindhu, early threat for Saina Nehwal
While the draw gods have blessed Rio Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu, they have not been too kind to the 2015 runner-up Saina Nehwal as the 23rd World Championships begin in Glasgow on August 21.
Sindhu, the two-time bronze medallist, in the World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying’s absence, has been seeded fourth and her possibilities of bringing home her third medal from this global event are enormous.
Following a first round bye, she looks set to flag off her campaign against the World No. 41 Kim Hyo Min. The 13th seed Cheung Ngan Yi should be her third round opponent.
Chinese fifth seed Sun Yu is the only threat, lurking in the quarter-finals, before a possible medal beckons the 22-year-old. Sindhu has a 3-4 losing head-to-head record against Sun, who beat her the last time they met at the World Superseries Finals in December.
Top seed Akane Yamaguchi or eighth seed and former world champion Ratchanok Intanon could be Sindhu’s semi-final opponent if the latter does indeed overcome the Sun Yu hurdle.
Sung Ji Hyun lurks early for Saina
For the 12th seeded Saina Nehwal, remaining at her flawless best right from the start is imperative as she has the second seed Sung Ji Hyun looming in the pre-quarter-finals.
Saina has faced the feisty Korean twice since her return from knee surgery and they have shared one win apiece. The most recent showdown at the Australian Open in June went in favour of the Indian, though.
Defending champion Carolina Marin is a big threat for Nehwal in the semi-finals and there could be a rematch of the 2015 final if they manage to reach that far.
Among the others, while the 91st ranked Tanvi Lad faces World No. 83 Chloe Birch, the national champion Rituparna Das has the World No. 54 Airi Mikkela first up.
Srikanth could face Son Wan Ho again
The men, who have been quite a force in the last few months, have contrasting draws. The eighth seeded Srikanth Kidambi remains India’s best bet for a medal in the men’s singles section.
He could face the World No. 1 Son Wan Ho for the third time in as many tournaments. In their last two showdowns at the Indonesia Open and the Australian Open, the India No. 1 held his poise to beat the Korean en route to winning the title each time.
This time, they could cross swords in the quarter-finals and the winner might go on to face the five-time world champion Lin Dan in the semi-finals.
But even before the Guntur-born ace finds himself in the last-eight, he has to be on the lookout.
Srikanth’s first round opponent, Sergey Sirant won the Russian Open Grand Prix last month. The player he might meet in the next round - Lin Yu Hsien - reached the semi-finals of the New Zealand Open and even accounted for HS Prannoy.
Rising youngster Anders Antonsen, seeded 14th, has all the ingredients to become a world beater and is capable of giving him a hard time in the third round.
13th seed Ajay Jayaram has an easy opener in the form of World No. 111 Luka Wraber. But his path gets tougher with the fifth seed and Olympic champion Chen Long waiting in the third round.
15th seed B Sai Praneeth has the 44th ranked Wei Nan in his first round. The Singapore Open Superseries champion needs to bring forth all his confidence to get past the sixth seed Chou Tien Chen in the pre-quarter-finals.
Sameer Verma, the only unseeded Indian men’s singles player, has to deal with the 36th ranked Pablo Abian before a second round contest with the 16th seeded Rajiv Ouseph and a difficult third round clash with Lin Dan.
Mixed doubles can bring good news
15th seeded Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy, who have first round byes, could meet Prajakta Sawant and her Malaysian partner Yogendran Krishnan in Round 2 in an exciting match-up.
Ashwini Ponnappa and B Sumeeth Reddy begin their challenge against the unheralded pair of Sawan Serasinghe and Setyana Mapasa, following which they could lock horns with the 13th seeded Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and K Maneesha have Tam Chun Hei and Ng Tsz Yau in the first round. The 14th seeds Mathias Christiansen and Sara Thygesen could prove to be a handful for the young pair in the second round.