SaarLorLux Open 2018: Sourabh Verma and Parupalli Kashyap lead Indian challenge
With the European swing having ended for the top-10 ranked shuttlers, the focus will now be on the Super 100 tournament starting on October 30 in Saarbrucken, Germany, which has a quality field. With the two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan heading the men’s singles draw, this event will receive its fair share of attention from badminton fans.
India too has significant presence at this tournament before the very important Asian swing begins next month. World No. 48 Sourabh Verma will be one to watch from the Indian contingent, considering how confidently he has been playing this year.
Having returned from an ankle injury, the older of the Verma brothers has won two BWF World Tour titles this season, and this tournament will present another priceless opportunity to him to get some more wins under his belt.
He starts his campaign against a qualifier, on beating whom the sixth seeded Lucas Corvee awaits. Although this should be a tough match for him on paper, his two title wins at the Dutch Open and the Russian Open must have instilled in him a lot of conviction to try and go for the upset.
2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap is seeded eighth although he is currently placed 10 spots below Verma. The 32-year-old is making his way back to the top echelons of the sport after a back injury, suffered earlier in the season, had derailed him.
He reached the quarter-finals at the Dutch Open on his comeback, where he had a couple of gruelling three-game wins. This tournament will give him another chance to test his fitness and stamina. He opens his campaign against the winner of Luís Enrique Peñalver and Robert Mann. Being a seed, the initial stages should remain relatively hassle-free for him until he meets the second seed Rasmus Gemke in the quarter-finals, a player who made it to the semi-finals of the French Open last week.
There is World No. 66 Subhankar Dey also in the draw. While his first couple of rounds should give him a chance to win, it is the third round where he faces the steepest challenge for the top seed Lin Dan awaits.
The Chinese legend has not been in the best of form of late, having been unable to cross the quarter-final hurdle in any tournament since May. It will be interesting to see how much resistance Dey can show against the struggling Dan.
Pratul Joshi is the fourth player from the country in the men’s singles draw. He squares off against the 69th ranked Jason Anthony Ho-Shue in the first round, on winning which he is scheduled to meet the fifth seed and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Rajiv Ouseph.
Only two Indians are present in the women’s singles draw, which is led by the World No. 14 Gao Fangjie of China.
India’s Saili Rane faces Natalya Voytsekh in the first round. A win there will set her up for a difficult second-round meeting with the second seed Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia. For rising star Anura Prabhudesai, eighth seed Linda Zetchiri looms.
Hellas Open champions Arjun MR and Shlok Ramchandran will be the highest ranked Indian pair in the men’s doubles draw. Also in action will be Arun George and Sanyam Shukla.
There is no Indian participation in the women’s doubles and the mixed doubles sections.