For the third time in three tournaments, PV Sindhu will face a top 10 shuttler in the opening round as she looks to lead India’s charge at Malaysia Masters Super 500 badminton tournament, starting in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
HS Prannoy too will be hoping to turn his good form into a consistent, deep run.
The two Indian shuttlers, the only two top singles shuttlers consistently playing BWF World Tour events at the moment from India, had suffered contrasting defeats at the quarterfinal stage of the Malaysia Open Super 750 last week.
Sindhu has won two Super 300 titles at Syed Modi International and Swiss Open this year, but is yet to clinch a Super 500 or beyond. For HS Prannoy, a title has proved elusive for a few years now and he will look to turn big one-match wins into a podium finish.
In the opening round, the former world champion Sindhu will face once again face the formidable He Bing Jiao, just like the Indonesia Open Super 1000 last month where the Chinese shuttler won. Sindhu trails 8-10 in head-to-head record against Bing Jiao, but has defeated the left-handed Chinese three times in the last four meetings, including the Tokyo Olympics bronze medal playoff.
Should she prevail, Sindhu could once again be on course to face Tai Tzu Ying in the quarterfinals.
Men’s singles: Viktor Axelsen, Lee Zii Jia, Anders Antonsen
Women’s singles: Carolina Marin
Men’s doubles: Gideon/Sukamuljo, Lee/Wang, Ong/Teo
Women’s doubles: Kim/Kong
Mixed doubles: Jordan/Oktavianti
Former World No 1 Saina Nehwal, who fell at opening opening hurdle last week in her comeback, actually has a decent draw to reach the quarterfinals. She is drawn to face Kim Ga Eun of Korea, part of the Uber Cup winning squad. With Carolina Marin’s withdrawal, an unseeded opponent awaits in the second round should she win.
Also in contention is Malvika Bansod, who is in the qualification draw. She faces former junior World Champion Goh Jin Wei and a win will take her to the main draw.
In men’s singles, Prannoy will be India’s best hope once again. The 29-year-old who was unbeaten in India’s epic Thomas Cup win in May, had reached the semifinals at the Indonesia Super 1000 and stunned fourth seed Chou Tien Chen in a remarkable performance last week in Kuala Lumpur. But hasn’t been able to follow those up with final appearances. He will meet French veteran Brice Leverdez in his opener, against whom he has a 2-1 H2H. Prannoy is also on track for a rematch against the same victor last week, potentially facing seventh seeded Indonesian Jonatan Christie next in the second round.
B Sai Praneeth, who has been struggling with his form since the Tokyo Games, will meet Kevin Cordon of Guatemala in the opening round. Sameer Verma is pitted against fourth-seeded Taiwanese Chou Tien Chen. In a clash of veterans, Parupalli Kashyap – promoted from qualifying – will take on Tommy Sugiarto.
In the doubles, it will be worth keeping an eye on the CWG-bound women’s pairing of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, who had a stunning start to the season. Gayatri has been missing from action in the recent weeks due to an injury she sustained at the BAI selection trials and the pair could use some much-needed game time. It won’t be easy when they meet the Malaysian combination of Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan in the opening round. Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will begin against a qualifying pair. There are a couple of other interests in women’s doubles as well but no men’s doubles or mixed doubles pairing are in action this week.