With back-to-back Super 750 events, the BWF World Tour action continues with the foot firmly on the pedal for Indian shuttlers as the French Open gets underway in Paris on Tuesday.

The focus for most of the Indian shuttlers, one imagines, is crucial ranking points towards Race to Guangzhou Rankings for the BWF World Finals. As of right now, per Badminton Talk, PV Sindhu is the only Indian shuttler who has earned enough points through the season to qualify for the prestigious tournament where the year’s top eight across categories participate.

In men’s singles, HS Prannoy should make it to the finale as he is currently top of the race ahead of Viktor Axelsen (the only qualifier in MS so far as World Champion) even though it is not officially confirmed yet. Lakshya Sen and Srikanth Kidambi are outside the top 8 but in the fray still.

Unfortunately from their perspective, they stand in each other’s way in Paris.

The highlight of the opening round at French Open Super 750 is the clash between Srikanth and Lakshya, the rematch of the 2021 World Championships semifinal where the senior pro got the better of the young gun. That is the only meeting so far on the international circuit between these two. The only seeded player in this section of the draw is Anthony Ginting, with the withdrawal of Anders Antonsen. A win for either of them here would help in possibly making a deeper run and both of them will be hoping to bounce back from their disappointing performances in defeats at the Denmark Open.

Ginting, incidentally, faces Sameer Verma in the opening round. The Indian has struggled with injuries but on his day, is capable of pulling off good results and has beaten Ginting once back in 2016. (H2H 2-1 in favour of the Indonesian).

On the flip side, the earliest HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen (possibly) could meet is the semifinals, given these two have been meeting each other earlier in tournaments often this season. Prannoy’s first-round challenge is also a familiar name in Daren Liew, the Malaysian veteran trails 4-7 in the Head-to-Head. Liew, world No 28, had defeated Prannoy at the Thailand Open not long after the Indian’s starring role at the Thomas Cup in Bangkok. But otherwise Prannoy has held the recent edge, winning four of the last five meetings. Kento Momota’s continued absence means a Chinese shuttler (Lu Guang Zu or Li Shi Feng) awaits the winner of this tie.

In women’s singles, PV Sindhu’s injury rehabilitation means Saina Nehwal remains the sole entrant. Sindhu, as per Coach Park Tae Sang’s update on Instagram, is now back in training but it would seem her focus is firmly on getting ready for the season finale. In the meantime, Nehwal will be hoping to convert some fighting recent performances to a deeper run. She starts off with a winnable fixture against Belgium’s Yvonne Li. Her possible second round opponent is Pornpawee Chochuwong or Han Yue. Should she reach that far, a possible quarterfinal awaits against Carolina Marin.

Past Paris memories for SatChi

In men’s doubles, Satwiksairj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are at one of their favourite events. It was here at this tournament in 2019 that the Indian rising pair made a stunning run to the final, defeating the likes of Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan, Kim Astrup-Anders Rasmussen, Hiroyuki-Endo Watanabe on the way, before losing to the Minions in the title clash. All three of those wins were against top-10 pairs of that time and it was a run that played a big role in their careers.

In fact, on more than one occasion, the duo has mentioned Paris as one of their venues / tournaments. And given 2024 on the horizon, the seventh seeds this time around would be hoping to recreate some magic of the past.

They begin their campaign against the dynamic French duo Christo Popov and Toma Juior Popov and the brothers will pose a stiff test at home. The biggest test for ‘SatChi’ in this quarter could come from world No 1 Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi, the 2021 world champions who lost to the Indians at the recent 2022 edition.

Their run in Denmark was ended by Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yiki, the reigning world champions, who the Indians are yet to defeat in seven meetings. Sukamuljo/Gideon are another pair they are yet to defeat and the draw has put the Indians in the opposite half to both of them.

MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila begin their campaign against the red-hot Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto, arguably the best pairing this year on the tour.

In women’s doubles, Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly are once again pitted against Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai, the sixth seeds from Thailand who ended the Indians’ campaign in Denmark. In three meetings, the Indian teenagers are yet to take a game from the Thai pair but came close in Odense, with the opening game ending 23-21. They have been putting together good rallies, good phases, and definitely good fights, in these matches against top pairs, but a big win eludes them after their run at All England. In their breakthrough senior season, the CWG bronze medallists would look to keep improving.

In mixed doubles, Tanisha Crasto and Ishaan Bhatnagar had their best result yet in Odense when they defeated a top 15 pair. Now, at world No 29 themselves, they will begin their campaign in Paris with a match against world No 20 Kyohei Yamashita and Naru Shinoya. A possible second round awaits against top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Thasapsiree Taerattanachai.

Here’s a look at India’s matches on opening day:

Full schedule available here.


Men’s singles: Kento Momota, Anders Antonsen

Women’s singles: Neslihan Yigit

Men’s doubles: None

Women’s doubles: Anna Ching Yik Cheong / Teoh Mei Xing, Chloe Birch / Lauren Smith, Du Yue / Li Wen Mei 

Mixed doubles: Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet, Yuta Watanabe / Arisa Higashino