China Open 2018: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth to lead Indian challenge
A full-strength Indian squad will challenge for the title as the BWF World Tour moves to the prestigious China Open this week. The tournament, set to begin in Changzhou, China, from September 18, is the last of the three Super 1000 tournaments this year.
Saina Nehwal returns to action for the first time since capturing a bronze medal at the Asian Games. The Commonwealth Games gold medallist had opted for rest post the continental games and should be fresh and raring to go.
She would need loads of energy in her first round itself as she has been pitted against the World No. 9 Sung Ji Hyun, who is placed just one rung above the Indian in the current world rankings. On crossing the first hurdle, the path doesn’t get any rosier for the former World No. 1 Indian.
Possible quarter-final clash between Saina and Sindhu
2017 World Championships bronze medallist Chen Yufei is lurking in the second round for Nehwal. A round later, Saina can meet the third seed PV Sindhu in what should be a blockbuster clash between the two Indian shuttle queens.
Sindhu herself has a lot of hard work to do, and the battle is mostly within herself. Reaching back-to-back finals at the World Championships and the Asian Games took a toll on her and she was not at her physical best at the Japan Open last week. Her usual firepower went missing for much of her second round match before she crashed out.
Sindhu has to egg herself on this week and needs to find the motivation. Her first couple of rounds might actually help her to acclimatize with the conditions.
She starts her campaign against World No. 39 Saena Kawakami. After that, Sindhu should meet the winner of the opener between Beatriz Corrales and Busanan Ongbamrungphan.
If Saina can’t make it to the quarters, Sindhu should likely be up against Chen Yufei in the last-eight and then second seed Akane Yamaguchi in the semi-finals. Asian Games champion Tai Tzu Ying, world champion and last week’s Japan Open champion Carolina Marin, and Japan Open runner-up Nozomi Okuhara have all been placed in the top half of the draw.
One of them is expected to make it through to the final. Whoever it be, Sindhu has a tough job at hand.
Srikanth has Momota challenge
On the men’s side, Kidambi Srikanth would hope to build on his Japan Open form. He was the best performing Indian last week and was the only one from the country to reach the quarters. Being seventh seeded, he starts his challenge against the World No. 23 Rasmus Gemke.
Srikanth has an uphill task in the last-eight as the in-form Kento Momota is supposed to be his opponent there. The Japanese reigned supreme in Tokyo on Sunday and would look forward to carry on his impeccable form
HS Prannoy is unseeded and meets the eighth seeded Ng Ka Long Angus in the first round.
In men’s doubles, India has two pairs -- Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy. The latter made a strong statement last week when they upset the Rio Olympic silver medallists Tan and Goh. It would be interesting to see if they can keep performing at the same level.
In women’s doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy take on Korea’s Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong. In mixed doubles, Chopra and Reddy has an easy opener against the German combine of Marvin Emil Seidel and Linda Efler while Rankireddy and Ponnappa kickstart their campaign against the English duo of Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis.