The last two matches she played were by some distance, not PV Sindhu’s best. At the Indonesia Masters and Indonesia Open in Jakarta, against two tough opponents nevertheless, Sindhu was outplayed by Ratchanok Intanon and then He Bing Jiao. And it doesn’t get much easier for her in Kuala Lumpur at the Malaysia Open Super 750 tournament starting on Tuesday.
She will start off against a formidable Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand, in another case of a tough draw in the opening round for the seventh seed.
In the men’s singles side, the absence of Srikanth Kidambi and Lakshya Sen means all eyes will once again be on HS Prannoy, who had a superb run to the semifinals in Jakarta.
Apart from Sindhu, the only other seeded entry from India is the men’s doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who are back in action for the first time since the famous Thomas Cup triumph in Bangkok last month.
Sindhu has a 5-3 head-to-head record against Chochuwong and won their last meeting at the Huelva World Championships. But three times in their last five meetings, Chochuwong has gotten better of the Indian star. Sindhu is in the same quarter as Tai Tzu Ying, who won Indonesia Open.
The tournament also marks the return to action for London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal who starts against USA’s Iris Wang. Her potential second round match is against Japanese sixth seed Nozomi Okuhara.
Prannoy is up against Malaysian veteran Daren Liew, who had defeated him at the Thailand Open in May this year in the immediate aftermath of the Thomas Cup. Prannoy leads 6-4 in the H2H overall, and had won the three meetings prior to the one in Bangkok.
B Sai Praneeth, who is going through a lean run of form, has an uphill task against Indonesian star Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. Sameer Verma takes on Jonatan Christie, seeded seventh. Former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Parupalli Kashyap, promoted from reserves in Lakshya’s place, will meet Korea’s Heo Kwang Hee in the opening round.
Satwik-Chirag will open Malaysia’s Man Wei Chong and Kai Wun Tee, in what will be a first meeting on the tour. In a men’s doubles draw where the top seeds Gideon/Sukamuljo (in the same quarter as the Indians originally) are absent, Satwik-Chirag will look to hit the ground running and go deep as they return from the highs of Bangkok.
In mixed doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and B Sumeeth Reddy, who are part of India’s Commonwealth Games squad, have been promoted from the reserves and will face Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek. Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan will square off against Korea’s Kim Won Ho and Jeong Na Eun.
Screenshots courtesy Tournament Software