Orleans Masters 2018: Sameer Verma and Parupalli Kashyap lead the Indian challenge
Away from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the two heroes of the 2014 edition -- Parupalli Kashyap and RMV Gurusaidutt -- will be two of the shuttlers to lead the Indian charge at the Orleans Masters 2018 in Orleans, France this week.
While Kashyap was crowned the champion in Glasgow, Gurusaidutt grabbed the bronze medal. Unfortunately, four years later, they are not part of the Gold Coast-bound contingent, having lost some precious time due to injuries.
A multitude of injuries struck the 31-year-old Kashyap since October 2015 while an ankle surgery kept the 28-year-old Gurusaidutt away from the circuit for a nearly a year, until he resumed full-fledged play in late 2017. Both their rankings plummeted and they are now steadily climbing their way back to the top echelons of the sport.
Kashyap is the fifth seed at this Super 100 tournament and Gurusaidutt will be aiming for a main draw berth in qualifying. The draw is headed by another Indian -- Sameer Verma. Both Kashyap and Verma ended up winning titles in the same week in February, thoroughly establishing their elevated levels of confidence after overcoming their respective injuries.
Verma showed his enormous talent on his way to claiming the Swiss Open, more than a year after winning his last international title at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. As for Kashyap, his Austrian Open title win came more than three years after his triumph at the Syed Modi International in 2015.
After a first round bye, the 37th ranked Verma will most likely take on World No. 81 Sergey Sirant and could have a pre-quarter-final showdown with the National championships bronze medallist Subhankar Dey.
The 42nd ranked Kashyap will have the challenge of the 101st ranked Zvonimir Durkinjak of Croatia to counter in his opening round. In the semi-finals, he should be crossing swords with the second seed Ygor Coelho of Brazil.
Other than them, the other Indians in the men’s singles draw include Abhishek Yeligar, Karan Rajan Rajarajan, Kartikey Gulshan Kumar, Sahil Sipani and Siril Verma, to name a few.
With the top stars heading to Australia, youngsters constitute the Indian challenge in the women’s singles section. Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli and Saili Rane are in the main draw while the likes of Mugdha Agrey and Vaidehi Choudhari will hope to qualify.
India has three pairs in contention in men’s doubles. National champions Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy are the top seeds. Iran International Challenge winners Francis Alwin and Kidambi Nandagopal have been seeded sixth. They are joined by Tarun Kona and Saurabh Sharma, who finished as runners-up at the Brazil International Badminton Cup recently.
The lone Indian pair in women’s doubles is that of Kuhoo Garg and Ningshi Block Hazarika. Garg will also be in action in mixed doubles, alongside Rohan Kapoor. The other Indian team in that category is that of Saurabh Sharma and Anoushka Parikh.