After a series of tournaments with tough opening-round draws, PV Sindhu gets a chance to make a deeper run this time as, on paper, a clear run till semifinals awaits the former world champion at the Singapore Open Super 500 event that started on Tuesday.
But, should she get that far, Sindhu potentially has to find an answer to the Tai Tzu Ying puzzle as the former world No 1 awaits in the semi-finals.
In men’s singles, in-form HS Prannoy will look to end his title wait while Srikanth Kidambi returns to action after a break.
Sindhu and Srikanth are the only seeded entries from India at the event with Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty not participating.
With Commonwealth Games around the corner, Sindhu and Srikanth would hope to warm up with good performances.
Sindhu has won a couple of Super 300 titles this year, but is yet to win Super 500 or beyond.
On day one of the tournament, Mithun Manjunath reached the men’s singles main draw from qualification while Dhruv Kapila-MR Arjun reached doubles round of 16. Chirag Sen, Kiran George missed out on qualifying for the main draw.
Dhruv Kapila and M.R. Arjun defeat Germany’s Jones Ralfy Jansen and Jan Colin Voelker 21-19, 21-9 in 34 minutes to enter round of 16. They will face Goh/Izzuddin from Malaysia on Thursday.
The Indian men’s doubles team of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud went down fighting against Singapore’s Terry Hee Yong Kai and Kean Hean Loh in the round of 32. The Singaporean pair won 21-15 19-21 21-17 in 50 minutes
Here’s a look at the fixtures for Wednesday when the tournament gets going with more first-round matches:
Third seed Sindhu will start off against world No 36 Lianne Tan of Belgium, is the only seeded player in her quarter. Sindhu’s potential quarterfinal is against Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand, against whom she boasts of a 17-1 head-to-head.
Busanan starts her campaign against Ashmita Chaliha who also features in the main draw of women’s singles after earning a promotion from qualification.
If Tai and Sindhu reach the semifinals, Sindhu will need to find a way to end a run of seven straight defeats with the head to head in favour of the Taipei shuttler 16-5.
A couple of all-Indian ties await in the opening round as well.
Saina Nehwal will begin her campaign against compatriot Malvika Bansod. In men’s singles, Mithun will take on seventh seed Srikanth Kidambi.
After an early exit at Indonesia Open, Srikanth will hope to spearhead a good Indian run in men’s singles in the absence of Viktor Axelsen, Kento Momota, Anders Antonsen, Lee Zii Jia to name a few. Srikanth is the only seeded player in his quarter of the draw.
Srikanth could play the semifinal against third seeded Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei, who is coming off a runners-up finish in the Indonesia Masters, or in-form Prannoy. With two semifinal finishes in the past month – Malaysia Masters and Indonesia Open – Prannoy will have to overcome effective top seed Chou Tien Chen in the quarterfinals should they both get that far.
Prannoy opens his campaign against Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin in the first round. He had defeated Chou in a stunning performance recently at the Malaysian Open. Prannoy will also have to contend with fifth seed Jonatan Christie in the 2nd round potentially. The Indonesian takes on Parupalli Kashyap in the opening round.
Sameer Verma is also in action but he faces a tough task in the opening round against Li Shi Feng from China, the 2018 Youth Olympics gold medallist who has been in good form.
Notable withdrawals (high-ranked players / Indians):
Men’s singles: Viktor Axelsen, B Sai Praneeth, Rasmus Gemke, Kunlavut Vitidsarn, Anders Antonsen
Women’s singles: Chen Yufei, Michelle Li
Men’s doubles: Gideon/Sukamuljo, Rambitan/Pramudya
Women’s doubles: Chen/Jia
Mixed doubles: Tan/Lai, Juhi/Venkat, Zheng/Huang