Sindhu geared up

January 30, 2018

BadmintonSindhu geared up


P.V. Sindhu is back but World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen will not be around to defend his singles title in the $350,000 India Open badminton tournament this week.

Axelsen chose to withdraw from the event at the last minute. That gave Shubhankar Dey a place in the top of the draw without having to go through Tuesday’s qualifiers. The Dane’s pull out should make things easier for second seed and World No. 3, K. Srikanth.

With Axelsen not in the fray, another Dane Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus, World No. 10 H.S. Prannoy and Commonwealth champion P. Kashyap will be the main contenders for a place in the quarterfinals from the top quarter of the draw.

The player who makes it will possibly meet third seed and last year’s finalist Chou Tien Chen in the semifinal.

For Srikanth, the lung-opener could well be the quarterfinals against last year’s semifinalist and lanky Dane Anders Antonsen, seeded seven. Last year, the Indian challenge had ended in the last-eight stage with the defeat of Sameer Verma.

Sameer faces Antonsen in the first round and should he survive the day, the winner of the Ajay Jayaram-Tommy Sugiarto clash will be up next. Interestingly, the third-quarter of the draw has all three Chinese, including fourth seed Shi Yuqi, who will meet Saurabh Verma in the first round.

In contrast, the women’s singles event looks fairly straightforward. In the absence of the leading Japanese and Chinese shuttlers, the field lacks depth. As a result, it should not come as a surprise if the top four seeds reach the semifinals.

Sindhu, reeling under last week’s straight-game loss to Saina Nehwal in the Indonesia Masters, will be desperate to defend the title despite the presence of Olympic champion Carolina Marin, former World champion Ratchanok Intanon and Saina. Should the seedings hold and there are no more withdrawals, Sindhu and Intanon should face off in the first semifinal and await the Marin-Saina winner in the final.

Settling scores

Last year, Sindhu scored a 21-16, 22-20 win over Saina in the quarterfinals. Since then, the latter has settled scores by posting straight-game victories in the National championship final and in the quarterfinals in Indonesia.

The seedings (Indians unless specified): Men: 1. Viktor Axelsen (Denmark, withdrawn), 2. K. Srikanth, 3. Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei), 4. Shi Yuqi (China), 5. H.S. Prannoy, 6. Wang Tzu Wei (Chinese Taipei), 7. Anders Antonsen (Denmark), and 8. B. Sai Praneeth.

Women: 1. P.V. Sindhu, 2. Carolina Marin (Spain), 3. Ratchanok Intanon (Indonesia), 4. Saina Nehwal, 5. Beiwen Zhang (USA), 6. Cheung Ngan Yi (Hong Kong), 7. Yip Pui Yin (Hong Kong), and 8. Beatriz Corrales (Spain).

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