Sindhu looks to maintain winning run in Japan Open; Saina, Srikanth return to action

September 19, 2017

Japan Open


NAGPUR: Flush with success in the Korea Open on Sunday, in-form PV Sindhu faces another Japanese challenge in the Japan Open which gets underway in Tokyo on Tuesday.

After avenging the World Championship final defeat to Nozomi Okuhara in the Seoul final, fourth seed Sindhu will have to negotiate two tricky Japanese girls in the initial rounds.

The Glasgow silver medallist will need to be at her best to first get past world No. 19 Minatsu Mitani in the first round.

The tall Hyderabadi will then again run into Okuhara in second round if she overcomes the 26-year-old Mitani.

Mitani was a former top-10 player, having reached world No. 9 ranking in 2013. So far, it’s 1-1 between them. Twenty-two-year old Sindhu won the last encounter between them at Macau Open in 2015.

Recovering from a slight thigh strain, Saina Nehwal is also in the bottom half of the draw as Sindhu. The former world No.1 will lock horns with Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong. Saina has a 2-0 record against Chochuwong, who’s world No.25.

World No.12 Saina had defeated the Thai girl twice this year including a straight-game win over the teenager in India Open in March. Earlier in January, Saina had also grounded her in the final of the Malaysia Masters.

All the Indian men’s singles players have a tough draw and will have to play out of their skins to make a mark. Kidambi Srikanth will take on Tian Houwei, world No.10 in the opener.

The 24-year-old Srikanth has a poor record against the Chinese. “I know the draw is tough. I think I need to be at my 100% in every match. I want to focus round by round and am not thinking too far ahead. I deliberately skipped Korea Open last week as I wanted to train hard for this tournament. I have prepared well and am looking forward to performing well,” said Srikanth after Monday’s practice session in Tokyo.

Srikanth’s practice partner at the Pullela Gopichand Academy, HS Prannoy will square off against Denmark’s Anders Antonsen. “It will be our first meeting on the international circuit. I have a tough first round and overall the field is quite strong,” said Prannoy.

Former National champion Sourabh Verma drew Lin Dan in the first round. Sourabh’s younger brother Sameer and B Sai Praneeth will meet qualifiers in the first round.

Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap will have to qualify for the main draw. He will face Denmark’s Emil Holst on Tuesday.

There are several Indian doubles pairs in the fray but they are not expected to make big inroads in the tournament.

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