Saina Nehwal will face a tough challenge on her return to the badminton court, while PV Sindhu is expected to have an easy run in the two Super 1000 events taking place next month. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced the draws for the YONEX Thailand Open and the TOYOTA Thailand Open tournaments, which will mark the return of both Indian shuttlers post-COVID-19.
At the YONEX Thailand Open, which is set to take place from January 12-17, Saina Nehwal will face World No. 4 Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the first round. PV Sindhu will be up against Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt in the first round.
At the TOYOTA Thailand Open, Saina Nehwal will compete against home favorite and current World No. 5 Ratchanok Intanon, while PV Sindhu will lock horns with Busanan Ongbamrungphan. This tournament is scheduled to be held from January 19-24.
Indian badminton team faces travel challenges to Bangkok
The Indian contingent faces travel challenges due to an increase of COVID-19 cases near Bangkok. As there is no air bubble agreement between India and Thailand, most pre-booked flights have got canceled. The Chinese contingent has also pulled out of the marquee event because of the coronavirus scare.
Earlier, PV Sindhu had spoken regarding her travel plans from England, despite countries imposing restrictions on flights from the UK. She had said that the idea was to travel from Doha to reach Thailand within the first week of January.
The 25-year-old PV Sindhu has been training in London since October to improve her fitness and nutrition. She last played at the All England Open but couldn't go past the quarterfinals of any event this year.
Meanwhile, Saina Nehwal is currently training in India as she aims to make a statement on her grand return to the tour. The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist played in only five tournaments and failed to reach the semifinals in any.
The two tournaments will mark the return of the BWF World Tour after a COVID-enforced break. The Two Super 1000 events will be followed by the BWF World Tour Finals in Bangkok next month. The prize purse for the first two events is $1 million each and all of the competitions will be held without any spectators.Published 30 Dec 2020, 14:59 IST