Denmark Open 2017: PV Sindhu primed for a deep run, tough opener for Saina Nehwal
An analysis of the chances of the Indian shuttlers.
After a lull of three weeks, top level badminton action starts again as the Superseries season resumes. The $750, 000 Danisa Denmark Open Superseries Premier is scheduled from October 17-22 at Odense where the world’s crème de la crème has descended.
Team India will be represented in its full strength as all the shuttlers look to make the most of the last four Superseries tournaments of the 2017 season for a chance to book a much-coveted berth at the World Superseries Finals in December.
Sindhu looks to bounce back from Japan Open setback
All eyes will unsurprisingly be on the 2015 runner-up PV Sindhu, who has won three titles this year, apart from a stellar show at the World Championships where she finished with the silver medal. Seeded second, she starts her quest against the World No. 10 Chen Yufei, a player she defeated at the World Championships.
She is likely to come across the seventh seeded He Bingjiao in the quarter-finals. The eighth ranked Chinese has been one opponent who has troubled the lanky Indian time and again which is further corroborated by her 5-4 head-to-head record against Sindhu.
Even in their most recent showdown in Korea, she was able to snatch a game off the Indian before the World No. 2 went on to win. It goes without saying that Sindhu needs to be at her tactical best to get the better of her nemesis.
A semi-final meeting with either the fourth seeded Akane Yamaguchi or the fifth seeded Carolina Marin is on the cards. Although the Olympic champion did struggle for most of the year, she managed to end her barren run with a title at the Japan Open Superseries. It must have elevated her confidence level and it will be pretty interesting to see the winners of the last two Superseries events locking horns.
In the other half of the draw, the top seed Tai Tzu Ying and the third seed Sung Ji Hyun lurk, either of whom could be Sindhu’s final opponent, should she succeed in surmounting the Marin barrier. After starting the year in immaculate form, the World No. 1 Tai seems to have lost some of her mojo of late and has succumbed to defeats in her last three Superseries events. That could raise title hopes for whoever she faces on the other side of the net.
Marin test for Nehwal
For the former champion Saina Nehwal, it is an extremely demanding task. The in-form Carolina Marin is her first round opponent and that is not something Saina would have liked, considering the fact that the Spaniard has begun to look her usual self again. She beat the Indian in straight games in the second round of the Japan Open last month. Unless Nehwal can show aggression, Marin would have the upper hand again.
Axelsen looms large for Srikanth
Indonesia and Australian Open winner Srikanth Kidambi leads a trio of Indians in the men’s singles section. The eighth seeded Srikanth starts off against a qualifier but a Danish wall stands in his way in the form of the second seeded Viktor Axelsen in the quarter-finals. The world champion was the one who halted the Indian’s run in the quarter-finals of the Japan Open and Srikanth would need all his best efforts to have any chance of piercing Axelsen’s burgeoning confidence, especially at home.
B Sai Praneeth has failed to match his early season sparkle when he made twin conquests of the Singapore Open and the Thailand Open. And the draw at the Denmark Open does not look promising enough for him to make yet another breakthrough.
He takes on the 26th ranked Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus before a possible meeting with the fifth seed Chou Tien Chen against whom he trails 0-3 in their head-to-head record.
US Open titlist HS Prannoy has to repeat his Indonesia Open heroics if he wants to go deep into the draw. He starts his campaign against the 38th ranked Emil Holst, on beating whom he will have to square off against the seventh seeded Lee Chong Wei.
Prannoy earned his maiden win over the former World No. 1 in Indonesia this June.
Tough draw for Chopra and Reddy
The Indian men’s doubles challenge is led by the pairs of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy. Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy are the only Indian team representing India in women’s doubles.
The mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy made a remarkable run to the semi-finals in the Japan Open last month. It will require a mammoth effort to make an encore of that performance for they have the top seeds Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen as their possible second round opponents.
After reaching the semi-finals of the Dutch Open last week, Ponnappa and Rankireddy will aim to qualify and join Chopra and Reddy in the main draw.