All eyes will be on defending champion Lakshya Sen as he leads a nine-member contingent from India at the SaarLorLux Open - a BWF Super 100 tournament to be held in Saarbrucken, Germany from October 27-November 1.
Besides Lakshya Sen, India will be represented by 2018 champion Subhankar Dey and Ajay Jayaram, both of whom played at the Denmark Open this month.
They will be joined by rising stars Mithun Manjunath, Kiran George, Alap Mishra and BM Rahul Bharadwaj in men's singles as well as Malvika Bansod and Ira Sharma in women's singles.
Formerly known as the Bitburger Open, this tournament has seen a lot of Indians finding success since its establishment in 1988. Four-time national champion Chetan Anand reigned supreme in 2008 - the same year Jwala Gutta and V. Diju won the mixed doubles title.
The following year saw Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas taste success in men's doubles. Subhankar Dey and Lakshya Sen's triumphs in back-to-back years in 2018 and 2019 ensured an iron grip over the men's singles title by Indian shuttlers.
With there being limited tournaments this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian squad will be looking to make the most of the opportunity they have got.
A four-member team led by former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth participated at the Denmark Open when badminton returned after a gap of seven months. While Srikanth was the only one to reach the quarters, the 19-year-old Lakshya Sen bowed out in the second round but not before impressing everyone.
In his very first appearance at the Super 750 tournament, Sen took a game off the Danish veteran Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus before losing 21-15, 7-21, 17-21. The World No. 27 would be hoping to bring that form to the SaarLorLux Open as he begins his title defence.
Lakshya Sen and Subhankar Dey could meet in quarters
Dey too has got a bye after being seeded sixth. World No. 64 Victor Svendsen, who won the Swedish Open at the start of the year, could put him to a test in the third round.
The winner of the possible all-Indian quarterfinal could meet third seed Mark Caljouw or eighth seed Toby Penty in the semifinals. Caljouw is an erstwhile World No. 25 shuttler and will come with a lot of experience for which the Indians need to be ready.
If Lakshya Sen or Subhankar Dey manage to overcome these hurdles, they could then face the in-form top seed Rasmus Gemke or fifth seed Vittinghus in the summit clash.
Both performed well at the Denmark Open and would be playing with a lot of confidence. World No. 17 Gemke was especially impressive as he made it to the final where he stretched the eventual champion Anders Antonsen to three games.
Apart from the seasoned campaigners, Mithun Manjunath faces the World No. 83 Kim Bruun before a potential second-round clash with Gemke, while Alap Mishra takes on the 121st-ranked Mads Christophersen. Kiran George and BM Rahul Bharadwaj have got first-round byes.
In women's singles, youngsters Bansod and Sharma will be keen to get some valuable experience. Bansod locks horns with World No. 59 Kristin Kuuba and Sharma has the 125th-ranked Katerina Tomalova up first.Published 25 Oct 2020, 14:24 IST