Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth to lead Indian challenge at All England Open
Birmingham, March 2 (IANS)
Leading Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth will spearhead the Indian challenge at the $500,000 All England Open Badminton Championships that starts at the Barclaycard Arena here on Tuesday. Olympic bronze medallist Saina will take on a qualifier in the first round of the Superseries Premier event on Wednesday. She is also expected to sail into the quarterfinals as a qualifier will be her challenger in the second round. Her likely opponent in the last eight will be former World champion Wang Yihan of China. Though Yihan has dropped to fifth place in the rankings, she is a tough competitor.
Pressure of carrying the Indian hopes in the women's singles is high on the World No.3 as two-time World Championships bronze medallist has withdrawn due to stress fracture on her left foot. Moreover, Olympic champion Li Xuerui and and former World No.1 and defending champion Shixian Wang are also gearing up to pull the Indian down.
In the men's singles competition, World No.5 Srikanth will face a wily opponent in World No.14 Kento Momota of Japan. Both have equal share of glory in the four career meetings.
Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap will also have a tough task at hand in the first round. The World No.12 will meet World No.7 Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei. World No.18 H. S. Prannoy will face French Brice Leverdez. Anand Pawar and Ajay Jayaram will aim to qualify to the main round on Tuesday.
In the women's doubles, 2011 World Championships bronze medal-winning Indian pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will face Malaysian team of Amelia Alicia Anscelly and Fie Cho Soong.
In the men's doubles, Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy will be up against the Indonesian pair of Gideon Markus Fernaldi and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo. D. Guru Prasad and Venkatesh Prasad will test themselves in the qualifying round, so are S. Sanjeeth and Jagadish Yadav.
In the mixed doubles event, Indo-Russian combination of Ponnappa and Vladimir Ivanov will face the Danish pair of Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak.
Only two Indians -- Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand -- have won this tournament in the past.