China Open: Sindhu, Saina to spearhead Indian challenge
The China Open Superseries Premier 2017 starts on Tuesday and PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal are spearheading the Indian challenge. Ace Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth would be missing from action, as he suffered a sprain during the nationals. Srikanth had reached a career-high ranking of word number two and there were expectations he would reach the No. 1 ranking with his exploits at the China Open.
Now, he will have to wait till the Hong Kong Open, which begins next week, to complete the achievement. Srikanth, additionally, is the only Indian to have won the men's singles title at the China Open.
Saina and Sindhu will strive to add another China Open title to their kitties. Both have, in the past, won the title in 2014 and 2016, respectively. They are two of the three non-Chinese shuttlers to have ever won the women's singles title at the China Open since its start in 1986.
Sindhu, the defending champion, who is the current world number two, starts off her campaign against Japan's Sayaka Sato. It is relatively easy sailing for her until the quarters where she could meet current world champion Nozomi Okuhara from Japan. Sindhu had defeated Okuhara to win the Korean Open, while it was the Japanese who had gained the upper hand at the World Championships in Glasgow.
Saina meets Beiwen Zhang in the first round and could run into Akane Yamaguchi in the next. Saina will be looking for a strong showing in China as she is looking to qualify for the season-ending World Super Series premier in Dubai.
In the men's draw, HS Prannoy and Sai Praneeth would lead the Indian challenge in Srikanth's absence. Indian doubles badminton players would also like to build upon their impressive performances in the recent weeks and the pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will look to recapture their form from the Korea Open, where they had reached the quarterfinals.