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PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth spearhead Indian challenge at the All England Open 2021

PV Sindhu to be seen spearheading action at the All England Open 2021
PV Sindhu to be seen spearheading action at the All England Open 2021

Following quick on the heels of the recently concluded Swiss Open, shuttlers have their eyes set on the upcoming All England Open 2021 which is scheduled to begin on March 17 and conclude on March 21.

In its 113th edition this year, the BWF Super 1000 event will be played at the Arena Birmingham in England.

Regarded as one of the elite events of the tour, the All England Open 2021, with an attractive purse of US$ 850,000 will serve as a preparatory tournament for leading shuttlers who are on the brink of qualifying for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The competition is expected to be cut-throat, with top shuttlers like Carolina Marin, Akane Yamaguchi, Mia Blichfeldt, Kento Momota and Tommy Sugiarto all in the mix.

With the Race to Tokyo being foremost on the minds of the Indian contingent - all eyes and hopes will be once again pinned on PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth as they vie for an Olympic berth.

Needless to say, after Sindhu's impressive runner-up finish and Srikanth's semi-final showdown at the Swiss Open 2021, the expectations will be high from the World No. 7 and World No. 13, respectively at the All England Open 2021.

Sindhu, Saina and Srikanth to grab maximum eyeballs at All England Open 2021

However, the draw ahead for the Indians headed to Birmingham for the All England Open 2021 does not appear to be a cakewalk - as there will be quite a few challenges to overcome.

Leading the way in the women's half of the draw will of course be the 2018 All England Open semi-finalist PV Sindhu and 2015 All England Open finalist Saina Nehwal in the singles.

While Sindhu has been handed a relatively easy draw with only a potential match-up against Carolina Marin in the semis, Saina Nehwal has a tough challenge on her hands with a clash against Mia Bilchfeldt slated for the opening round.

Kidambi Srikanth hopes to advance deep at the All England Open 2021
Kidambi Srikanth hopes to advance deep at the All England Open 2021

On the men's front, Kidambi Srikanth, who is keen to make every match count in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics, will be seen heading to the All England Open 2021 with high hopes. Keeping him company is a whole host of budding and seasoned players ranging from the young sensation Lakshya Sen, to Olympic-hopeful B Sai Praneeth and other experienced players like Parupalli Kashyap, HS Prannoy and Sameer Verma.

On the men's doubles side, the dynamic duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty, ranked World No. 10, are expected to shine after their semi-final finish at the Swiss Open 2021. The duo of MR Arjun/Dhruv Kapila will also be competing at the All England Open 2021 in the same category.

The women's doubles will see the regular entourage led by Ashwini Ponnappa/N Sikki Reddy, with the pairs of Meghana Jakkampudi/Poorvisha Ram and Ashwini Bhat/Shikha Gautam also in the mix.

Finally, in mixed doubles, the trusted pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Ashwini Ponnappa will lead the way, with Dhruv Kapila/Meghana Jakkampudi and Pranaav Jerry Chopra/ N Sikki Reddy also competing in the same category.

Saina Nehwal needs to pull up her socks as she begins her title bid at the All England Open 2021
Saina Nehwal needs to pull up her socks as she begins her title bid at the All England Open 2021

Although PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth are inching their way towards Olympic berths, the clock seems to be running a tad too fast for the likes of Nehwal and B Sai Praneeth. With the Olympic qualification window for June 15, 2021 steadily approaching, these Indian shuttlers must pull up their socks and put their best foot forward to be able to keep their Olympic medal dreams floating.

Here's the full Indian squad headed to the All England Open 2021:

Women's Contingent: PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Ashwini Ponnappa, N Sikki Reddy, Meghana Jakkampudi, Poorvisha Ram, Ashwini Bhat, Shikha Gautam

Men's Contingent: Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, Lakshya Sen, B Sai Praneeth, HS Prannoy, Sameer Verma, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, MR Arjun, Dhruv Kapila, Pranaav Jerry Chopra

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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