India's shuttlers face tough draw ahead at Yonex Sunrise India Open
The Indian Open Super Series event is now well under way with the crowds all set to witness the world’s best badminton players battle it out to grab the title and the USD 250,000 prize. Top players from the world over are here to conquer the stage and amongst them are the male and female no.1 players – Lee Chong Wei and Li Xuerui. The competition takes place at the Siri Fort stadium in Delhi and will be held between 1st and 6th April.
All eyes will be on the Indian contingent, as they will enjoy the home crowd and turf advantage, giving them a great opportunity to make full use of it.
Now looking at the men’s draw, Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap, ranked 22 and 24 respectively, were seen as the best hopes to win it, followed by Anup Sridhar, Arvind Bhat, R.M.V. Gurusaidutt, Sourabh Varma, Sai Praneeth, Anand Pawar and H.S. Prannoy. However, Srikanth, Prannoy, Sai Praneeth, Anand Pawar and Anup Sridhar saw a very disappointing early exit from the competition with Arvind not even qualifying to the main draw. Any hopes of an Indian winning the men’s competition now rest Kashyap, Gurusaidutt and Sourabh Verma, who advanced into the second round. Each one still has a tough draw to face with defending champion Lee Chong Wei being tipped as the favourite to win the title.
In the women’s draw, Saina Nehwal, world no.8, is being seen as the biggest hope to win the title, closely followed by PV Sindhu. Sindhu sadly crashed out in the first round itself, defeated by World no.2 Shixian Wang. There was a possibility of them meeting in the semis, had they come through their respective draws. That is now safely out of the equation.
Sindhu had an impressive 3-0 record against Shixian, making her a tough opponent for the Chinese player to beat, yet she got the better of Sindhu in a match that lasted an hour and nine minutes.
The defending champion, Ratchanok Intanon, surprisingly pulled out of the competition at the last minute citing health issues, but the top trio of Li Xuerui, Shixian Wang and Wang Yihan are very much there and are no doubt the ones to beat with Sun Yu also posing a big threat.
PC Thulasi, Tanvi Lad, Shruti Mundada and Saili Rane also could not make it past their first round matches.
The mixed doubles category had the following players representing India – Abhijeet Naimpally/Trupti Murgunde, Gaurav Venkat/Juhi Dewangan, Pranav Jerry Chopra/Maneesha K, Tarun Kona-Ashwini Ponnappa, Akshay Dewalkar/Pradnya Gadre, Abhishek Ahlawat-Kristi Das and Arun Vishnu-Aparna Balan. Unfortunately, each of them lost in the first round today.
Although the Chinese might seem like tough competitors, Kashyap’s easy victory over Zhengming Wang, despite an injury, just goes to show how mental strength and persistence can help beat any opponent. Head coach of the Indian contingent, P Gopichand, is also of the opinion that the Indians have each been handed a tough draw, but believes that’s how it is sometimes and is confident that his players will perform well against any competition.
So here’s wishing the Indian contingent all the best and hoping for the title and top honours to go to an Indian player.