Singapore Open 2018: Sai Praneeth and Parupalli Kashyap lead Indian challenge
After the Thailand Open, the focus shifts on the Singapore Open as high-voltage badminton action continues throughout July. In this Super 500 tournament, scheduled to be held from 17-22 July, the Indian challenge will be led by B Sai Praneeth and Parupalli Kashyap as the biggest stars from India opted to rest and recover ahead of the Badminton World Championships.
The 24th ranked Sai is the sixth seed in men’s singles and starts his campaign against the World No. 59 Yu Igarashi of Japan. Interestingly, he could be a part of an all-Indian clash in the very next round if former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist RMV Gurusaidutt manages to overcome the World No. 36 Qiao Bin of China.
Sai’s path gets tougher in the semi-finals as he is slated to take on the top seed and World No. 7 Chou Tien Chen. Sai has never beaten the Chinese Taipei ace in four previous meetings.
Kashyap begins his challenge against his compatriot, Sourabh Verma, who has been promoted from qualifying. Former World No. 9 Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand is his potential second round opponent.
Up next is World No. 20 Wong Wing Ki Vincent, although the Indian enjoys a 1-0 lead in their head-to-head showdowns. In the semi-finals, Kashyap is likely to meet either the second seeded NG Ka Long Angus or the fifth seeded Khosit Phetpradab, both of whom he has never crossed swords with previously in the senior international circuit.
Subhankar Dey is the fifth Indian in the men’s singles draw, but his task is cut out as the top seed Chou Tien Chen looms in Round 2, should he get past Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue.
Gadde and Jakka spearhead the women's challenge
The Indian women’s singles challenge will be led by a group of talented youngsters in the absence of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. South Asian Games gold medallist Ruthvika Shivani Gadde takes on World No. 44 Linda Zetchiri. Former national champion Rituparna Das qualified for this tournament and up next for her is World No. 58 Sabrina Jaquet.
For the current India No. 3 Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka, it is an uphill task as she faces the World No. 31 Minatsu Mitani of Japan.
For Mugdha Agrey, the seventh seed and Korea Masters champion Gao Fangjie looms. Sai Uttejitha Rao Chukka meets Beatriz Corrales while Vaidehi Choudhari meets the second seed Nitchaon Jindapol.
In men’s doubles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have been seeded second and have the Indonesian qualifying team of Rizky Hidayat and Loh Kean Hean in the first round. Three other Indian teams have found a place in the main draw, out of which Arjun MR and Shlok Ramchandran will be one pair to watch.
The seventh seeds have a comfortable opener in the form of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy of England.
In women’s doubles, Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy make a return since their medal-winning run in Gold Coast. The eighth seeds -- India’s lone team in this category -- will face Hong Kong’s NG Tsz Yau and Yuen Sin Ying.
India fielded three pairs in mixed doubles, out of which all eyes will be on the national champions, Ponnappa and Rankireddy, who made a huge impact at the Commonwealth Games. They have already started their campaign on a winning note and will be looking to extend that winning run further.
While eighth seeds Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra will lock horns with German qualifiers, Jones Ralfy Jansen and Carla Nelte, Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewagan have succumbed to a first round defeat.