After a hectic period of near non-stop badminton in the middle of this year, the top Indian shuttlers – perhaps refreshed, rejuvenated and rehabilitated from whatever niggles they had been carrying – will be back in action on the BWF World Tour with back-to-back European events.
Leading Indian shuttlers Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, Srikanth Kidambi, HS Prannoy and Saina Nehwal will all be part of the Indian challenge in the BWF Denmark Open 2022 Super 750 event that starts on Tuesday at the Jyske Bank Arena in Odense.
The men’s doubles pairing of Satwik-Chirag is the only seeded entry (seventh) from the Indian contingent.
PV Sindhu, however, continues to be absent after she suffered a stress fracture on her way to gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
In men’s singles, world No 8 Lakshya Sen is the highest-ranked Indian. But he is not seeded in the top eight at the event and that has seen him receive a mighty tough opening round test. He will start his campaign against world No 6 and Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia. Badminton, where the draw happens so early and has been criticised in some quarters for throwing up such opening round fixtures, continues to confound by pitting such contests in the first round.
For the record, Lakshya leads the head-to-head with Ginting 2-0, with the most recent meeting coming in the final of the Thomas Cup where the Indian put his team on their way to history. Should Lakshya win this, he potentially meets HS Prannoy in the second round.
World No 11 Kidambi Srikanth will face World No 14 Ng Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong in the first round. The two veterans are tied 3-3 on the H2H. Srikanth has gone off the boil a little bit since the Thomas Cup with inconsistent results, but he recently said that he has been hoping to recover from a stiff back that bothered him. The break will have done him a world of good as he looks to get back the form from earlier this year. Srikanth potentially faces a second round match against recently dethroned world champion Loh Kean Yew, who like Srikanth, must have really needed that break.
Prannoy, who has steadily climbed back up the steadily unfreezing rankings, faces a tough challenge in the opening round itself against China’s Zhao Jun Peng. Zhao has been the cause of heartbreak for Prannoy twice this year already, ending the Indian’s dream runs at the Indonesia Open (semifinal) and World Championships (quarterfinals). Prannoy, who got married in the recent break and then returned to action briefly at the National Games in the team event, had been playing non-stop this year and will hope that he can get his hands on the elusive title in one of these two events.
Apart from Indians, the opening round has given us another contest undeserving of this level with a rematch of the World Championships final where the dominant Dane Viktor Axelsen returns to action with a tie against Kunlavut Vitidsarn. It is a battle that pits the world No 1 against the world No 10.
Axelsen will be looking to continue his stellar run in 2022 as he hits the ground running again at his home venue.
Elsewhere, in women’s singles, Saina Nehwal is the lone Indian representative and she begins with a contest against world No 30 Zhang Yi Man of China, who won their sole previous meeting albeit in 2016. The Indian, former world No 1, faces a potential second round match against Ratchanok Intanon in the battle of veterans.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games men’s doubles gold medallist pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will face Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae of South Korea in the first round. The Indians have a 1-1 H2H against the Korean pair ranked 26 in the world, having lost the last time they met this year at Korea Open.
The world championships bronze medallists, placed in the bottom half of the draw, have a daunting route to the title: they could be facing All England champions Maulana-Fikri in the second round, newly crowned world champions Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik in the quarterfinals, and recently dethroned world No 1 pair of Gideon-Sukamuljo in the semifinals.
In women’s doubles, Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly will clash against Amalie Magelund and Alexandra Bøje of Denmark. In the mixed doubles opening round, the pair of Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto will face Rinov Rivaldy and PH Mentari of Indonesia.
Men’s singles: Kento Momota
Women’s singles: None
Men’s doubles: None
Women’s doubles: Chloe Birch/Lauren Smith, Anna Ching Yik/Cheong Teoh Mei Xing
Mixed doubles: William Villeger / Anne Tran, Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet, Hoo Pang Ron / Toh Ee Wei
Indians in action on Tuesday in the opening round (rest on Wednesday): Srikanth Kidambi, Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand. Full schedule available here.
Broadcast for the BWF Denmark Open 2022 Super 750 event will begin with Round of 32 on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, from 12:30 pm onwards on Sports18 1 SD & HD in India.