New Delhi: Ace shuttlers Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and K Srikanth will be country’s best bets when they compete in a world class field at the USD 250,000 India Open Super Series, which will get underway with the qualifiers at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here tomorrow.
Indian chief coach Pullela Gopichand reckons it will be the toughest Indian Super Series.
“The entire group has a tough draw because all the top players are playing. It will the toughest Indian Open we have had in all its editions. It’s going to be tough but that’s the way it is, we have to face it,” said the 2001 All-England champion.
London Olympics bronze medallist, Saina is the only Indian to be seeded, eighth, and will once again be the star attraction when she starts her campaign against Austrian Simone Prutsch on Wednesday.
World No.1 and Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China is the top seed. Defending and World Champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand though has pulled out because of injury.
After a forgettable 2013, Saina arrested a dip in her performance by clinching the Syed Modi International title early this year, before entering the quarterfinals of All England and Swiss Open.
The 24-year-old Indian is likely to reach the quarters, where in all probability former world champion Yihan Wang of China will be waiting for her in the last-eight encounter.
The third seeded Chinese enjoys an impressive 7-1 record against Saina and had beaten the Indian in the All England early this month.
Despite winning many titles world wide, Saina has not been able to cross the second round in the last three editions of the Indian Open and the Indian will look to better that result in this edition.
Her younger colleague, Sindhu, however, has a good record at the Indian Open as she reached the quarters and semifinals of the last two edition but the Indian has been handed a tough draw as she faces two-time All England Champion Shixian Wang of China in her campaign opener on Wednesday.
The World No. 9 Sindhu had beaten Shixian at the Swiss Open recently and has an impressive 3-0 head-to-head advantage against the former World No.1 Wang and she remains confident of her chances.
“The draw is tough as I am playing Wang Shixian in the first round. I have won against her three times and hope I win this time also. I will have the crowd support, so I will have the advantage. I am confident,” Sindhu said.
Among other Indians in women’s singles draw are Tanvi Lad, former national champion Trupti Murgunde, PC Thulasi, Saili Rane and National Games winner Arundhati Pantawane.
ndian challenge in men’s singles will rest on the shoulders of Thailand Grand Prix Gold winner, K Srikanth, while Parupalli Kashyap, Sourabh Varma, RMV Gurusaidutt, B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth, Anand Pawar and HS Prannoy are the other players in the fray.
Defending champion and world number one Lee Chong Wei is the top seed and will be the cynosure of all eyes, while Japan’s Kenechi Tago has pulled out today from the men’s singles. Former world No. 6, Kashyap, who has been drawn against Chinese sixth seed Zhengming Wang in his campaign opener, is currently nursing a shoulder injury but the Indian said his semifinal finish at Swiss Open boosted his confidence.
“The draw is tough in India Open. But I did well in Swiss and even in All England. I am hitting a good form. I know my opponent. I have to really push myself hard but I think I have got a chance and I can beat him,” he said.
Sourabh too is in good touch after finishing as runners-up in the Malaysian Open last week and the Madhya Pradesh lad will take on Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov, Guru will meet Tien Chen Chou, while Sai Praneeth will have seventh seed Chinese Pengyu Du as his first round opponent.
Pawar and Prannoy too have been handed a tough draw as they face off with fourth seeded Dane Jan O Jorgensen and second seed Chen Long in the first round.
Among the doubles pair, men’s combinations of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar and Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy will participate in men’s competition.
Also Prajakta Sawant and Arathi Sara Sunil, Commonwealth Games gold medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa and Pradnya Gadre and N Siki Reddy will compete in women’s doubles competition.
In the mixed doubles competition, Abhijeet Naimpally-Trupti Murgunde, Gaurav Venkat-Juhi Dewangan, Chopra-Maneesha K, Tarun Kona-Ashwini, Dewalkar-Pradnya, Abhishek Ahlawat-Kristi Das and Arun Vishnu-Aparna Balan are the Indians in fray.
The qualifiers will be held tomorrow with a number of Indians vying for a place in the main draw.