German Open: Kidambi Srikanth leads the Indian challenge
After a lull, top level badminton action is all set to come back with the $120, 000 German Open being scheduled from February 28 to March 5. India’s Kidambi Srikanth makes his much-awaited return to the circuit at this Grand Prix Gold event at Mülheim an der Ruh.
The 24-year-old took time off after January’s Syed Modi International in order to focus on his training ahead of the hectic European swing and also to heal fully from an ankle injury that he sustained last year.
After the injury that robbed him three months of competitive play, the Pullela Gopichand protégé has been careful about not rushing himself into tournaments. The hiatus after the Syed Modi International, where he lost in the semi-finals, resulted in a ranking slide of nine places and he now sits at a lowly 30th.
But Srikanth is not concerned about that. In a recent interview to PTI before embarking on his journey to Europe, the former World No. 3 has admitted that he is in good shape and is not worried about the fall in ranking.
“I am in good shape. I don’t want to rush into tournaments. I am not too worried about ranking. It’s fine, I know I will be back in just two months if I can play to my potential.”
Srikanth is seeded 12th at this tournament and starts his campaign against the 170th ranked Slovenian Alen Roj. The Rio Olympic quarter-finalist has a tough job from the third round where he potentially faces the second seed and reigning Olympic champion Chen Long.
Other Indians in action
Besides Srikanth, a few rising youngsters will be seen in action at this event. Former junior World No. 1 Siril Verma has a big obstacle in the first round in the form of the third seed and two-time Olympic winner Lin Dan.
20-year-old Harsheel Dani, who made it to the semi-finals of the Syed Modi International, has the sixth-seed Chou Tien Chen first up. Subhankar Dey takes on the 53rd ranked Chinese Zhao Junpeng while Rahul Yadav Chittaboina kicks off his challenge against the World No. 47 Misha Zilberman.
In the men’s singles qualifying rounds, 20-year-old Harshit Aggarwal will be looking to seal a berth in the main draw. He meets the 342nd ranked Bulgarian Alex Vlaar in his qualifying match.
In women’s singles, Tanvi Lad is the sole Indian participant and she has a qualifier in her first round. Olympic champion Carolina Marin is the top seed and is expected to be Lad’s second round opponent.
There is no Indian representation in doubles at this tournament.