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Swiss Open Badminton: HS Prannoy faces tough road to title defence

19-year-old Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli remains the only Indian contestant in womens singles.

HS Prannoy
HS Prannoy scripted one of the best moments for Indian badminton last year when he won the Swiss Open

Two-time former champion and top seed Saina Nehwal’s withdrawal might have taken a bit of sheen out of the $120,000 Swiss Open beginning at Basel on Tuesday, but India still has a lot of challengers in this week’s Grand Prix Gold event that can pique the badminton fans’ interest. The contingent has five representatives in the men’s singles section alone beside the doubles teams as well.

Out of them, the one to watch out for is definitely the defending champion HS Prannoy. One year ago, the 13th seeded Prannoy rode on a confidence-boosting performance to scalp three seeds and emerge the winner, scripting one of the best moments for Indian badminton in 2016.

This time he is seeded fifth but that doesn’t make his job any easier. The World No. 22 kicks off his campaign against Germany’s 19-year-old David Peng for a possible second round meeting with the 58th ranked Scotsman Kieran Merrilees.

Things get interesting from the third round as he can come up against the 10th seeded Qiao Bin, a player he narrowly beat at the All England Championships last week. He has an uphill task in the quarter-finals as the second seed and the All England Championships runner-up Shi Yuqi awaits.

The rest of the Indians are huddled together in the bottom half of the draw as well just like Prannoy, far away from the top seed Lin Dan.

National champion Sourabh Verma is in the same quarter as his Pullela Gopichand Academy mate and he can meet Prannoy only if he overcomes Qiao Bin in the second round.

Sourabh’s brother, Sameer is seeded 13th and he takes on Gergely Krausz of Hungary in the opener before possibly locking horns with compatriot Lakhanee Sarang in Round 2. The Syed Modi International titlist has a chance of squaring off against another Indian – the Portuguese International winner Subhankar Dey in the pre-quarter-finals.

Sameer is then on a collision course with the sixth seed Tzu Wei Wang, who made it to the German Open final this month. If he can surmount that barrier, the second-seeded Shi Yuqi is likely to make it a tough affair in the semi-finals.

The rest of the Indian contingent

In Saina’s absence, 19-year-old Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli remains the only Indian contestant in women’s singles and she takes on the seventh seed Fitriani Fitriani in the first round.

In men’s doubles, the Indian pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy has their task cut out as they face the top-seeded Chinese duo of Chai Biao and Hong Wei in the first round. 

In mixed doubles, the fourth seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy start off their challenge against the Swedish combine of Nico Ruponen and Amanda Hogstrom. India has a second team in this category with the unseeded duo of Rohan Kapoor and Sanjana Santosh squaring off against the French pair of Bastian Kersaudy and Lea Palermo.

In women’s doubles, Sanjana Santosh and Arathi Sara Sunil are the sole representatives and they have been handed a difficult opener against the 24th ranked Russians Anastasia Chervyakova and Olga Morozova.

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