The Orleans Masters tournament marks the resumption of the Olympic qualification window for badminton players across the globe. After a dismal campaign at the recently-concluded All England Open 2021, Indian shuttlers will hope to give a better account of themselves in France.
The Orleans Masters is one of the most significant tournaments which will determine qualification for the quadrennial Olympics, starting July 23 this year. The Swiss Open was the first BWF World Tour event this year to offer ranking points for Olympic qualification.
Barring P V Sindhu, the Indian shuttlers seemed to struggle with form as none could progress beyond the quarter-finals at the Super 1000 Birmingham event. While Kidambi Srikanth struggled to keep pace with his first-round opponent Nhat Nguyen, Saina Nehwal simply ran out of steam before retiring hurt in the opening round.
Orleans Masters: Saina gets direct entry into main draw, Srikanth top seed among men
With the cut-off date fast approaching, a lot is at stake for former World No. 1 Saina in the coming few months. Slipped to a world ranking of 19, the London Olympics bronze medalist is currently struggling to regain her form.
Saina, seeded fourth in the event, is the lone Indian to have received direct entry into the women's singles draw at the Super 100 tournament. She will play Kisona Selvaduray of Malaysia in the opening round.
Reigning world champion Sindhu, who advanced to the All England Open semi-final last week, has decided to drop out of the Orleans Masters tournament.
Among other Indians in the women's singles, Ira Sharma and Aakarshi Kashyap will be eager to make their presence felt when they play their respective qualifying rounds.
India will have a strong contingent of three top shuttlers in the men's singles, including Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, and H S Prannoy. All three have received byes in the first round of the Orleans Masters tournament.
MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila will be at the forefront as top Indian men's doubles contenders, while Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will look to put their best foot forward in the women's doubles.
B Sai Praneeth and young men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy are not on the entry list for the Orleans Masters tournament.
Orleans Masters: Full draw for the Indian shuttlers
Saina Nehwal vs Kisona Selvaduray (Malaysia)
Women’s singles qualifying rounds
Aakarshi Kashya vs Yaelle Hoyaux (France)
Ira Sharma vs Lee Ying Ying (Malaysia)
Kidambi Srikanth - first round bye
HS Prannoy - first round bye
Parupalli Kashyap - first round bye
Siril Verma - first round bye
Chirag Sen - first round bye
Ajay Jayaram vs Kalle Koljonen (Finland)
Kiran George vs Mark Caljouw (Netherlands)
Subhankar Dey vs Ditlev Jaeger Holm (Denmark)
Men’s singles qualifying rounds
Mithun Manjunath vs Youcef Sabri Medel (Algeria)
Rahul Yadav Chittaboina vs Shreyansh Jaiswal (India)
B.M. Rahul Bharadwaj vs Mohamed Abderrahime Belarbi (Algeria)
Alap Mishra vs Julien Carraggi (Belgium)
M.R. Arjun/Dhruv Kapila vs Matthew Clare/Ethan Van Leeuwen (England)
Men’s doubles qualifying rounds
Krishna Prasad Garaga/Vishnu Vardhan vs Kristian Høholdt Kræmer/Marcus Rindshøj (Denmark)
Anto Agna/Ashna Roy vs Yulfira Barkah/ Febby Valencia Dwijayanti Gani (Indonesia)
Ashwini Ponnappa/N Sikki Reddy vs Amalie Magelund/Freja Ravn (Denmark)
Dhruv Kapila/Ashwini Ponnappa vs Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock (England)
Pranaav Jerry Chopra/N Sikki Reddy vs Julien Maio/Lea Palermo (France)
(With inputs from the official Olympic website)