Reigning world champion PV Sindhu’s title defence will have to go through Pornpawee Chochuwong, Tai Tzu Ying and Carolina Marin as the draws were made for the 2021 BWF Badminton World Championships on Wednesday.

The tournament is being held in Huelva, Spain, from December 12 to 19.

Sindhu, who clinched the 2019 title in Basel to become the first Indian shuttler to win the badminton world championship, is seeded sixth in women’s singles. She will begin her campaign with a first-round bye (as do all the top 16 seeds). Her first opponent will be the winner of the match between Martina Repiska and Ruselli Hartawan but her path gets tricky immediately after. A potential third-round match awaits against the in-form Thai shuttler Chochuwong. Should she get past that, then comes a likely quarterfinal against world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying before a potential blockbuster semifinal against Marin.

The Spain shuttler, who has won the tournament three times in the past, has been absent from the tour on account of a knee injury that saw her miss the Tokyo Olympic Games. The tournament is being held in her hometown and the indications so far are that Marin will give it a go. Tai Tzu Ying has also been absent from the tour since her silver at Tokyo 2020 where she defeated Sindhu in the semifinal.

On the bright side for Sindhu, Akane Yamaguchi and An Seyoung – two of the most in-form shuttlers in women’s singles right now – are drawn in the same quarter in the bottom half.

Seeded eighth in the men’s doubles draw, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have earned a first-round bye. They are, however, in the same quarter as the Olympic champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi Lin.

In men’s singles, Basel 2019 bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth and Srikanth Kidambi are drawn in the same quarter while Lakshya Sen faces a potential third-round match against world No 2 Kento Momota. HS Prannoy faces Ng Ka Long Angus in the opening round.

Sindhu is the only Indian women’s singles entry as former world No 1 Saina Nehwal will miss the World Championships for the first time in her international career due to multiple injuries that have derailed her season.

The London Olympics bronze-medallist, who has won a silver and bronze besides eight quarter-final finishes in the World Championships over the years, is recovering from a groin pull and knee injury.

(More to follow)