After her defeat in the opening round of the All England Open last week, PV Sindhu – as she often does, whether she wins or loses – sounded upbeat. The performance was not up to the mark as she went down in straight games against Zhang Yi Man of China. On court, she looked out of sorts at times, struggling to put together a string of points. But brushing aside worries that she might still have fitness issues, Sindhu said it was a question of finding that flow to her game.
“It’s just the rhythm, you need to get it and then you’ll be there. It’s just my third tournament this year. I’m a bit sad, but it’s important to bounce back,” she told BWF.
What better place to find the rhythm she is seeking than the St Jakobshalle in Basel. It is the venue where she won the World Championships in 2019, producing a stunning run that culminated in a historic win over Nozomi Okuhara. Since then, at the Swiss Open in 2021 and 2022, she reached the finals, winning the title last year.
As the Swiss Open Super 300 gets underway in Basel on Tuesday, she – along with HS Prannoy – will be hoping to make deep runs to gain some momentum on the BWF World Tour that has eluded Indian shuttlers so far.
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In the badminton season so far, with seven events completed, the best results for the Indian contingent have been the semifinal appearances for Satwiksairaj Rankireddy / Chirag Shetty (Malaysia Open Super 1000) and Gayatri Gopichand / Treesa Jolly (All England Open Super 1000). Even the 300s and 100s haven’t seen any Indian shuttler make a decisive run yet and Sindhu and Prannoy – leading a large contingent – will be hoping for a turnaround in Basel.
Defending champion Sindhu is seeded fourth while India No 1 Prannoy, who had finished runner-up in the last edition, is seeded fifth in men’s singles along with Lakshya Sen at eight. In men’s doubles, Satwik-Chirag, who looked good in their first tournament back at All England after an injury layoff for the former, are seeded second in men’s doubles.
With second seed Carolina Marin withdrawing from the event, Sindhu is the highest seed in her half of the draw. Saina Nehwal, who could have faced Sindhu in the second round, is another withdrawal. The draw gives Sindhu a good chance to get some wins under the belt, starting off against local player (wildcard) Jenjira Stadelmann. A potential second round against Thailand youngster Lalinrat Chaiwan, who stunned compatriot Ratchanok Intanon at All England last week, will offer a good test.
The other seeded players in Sindhu’s half are Busanan Ongbamrungphan and Pornpawee Chochuwong, meaning the Indian’s path to the final is filled with Thai obstacles... and ones that she is capable of overcoming if she can find her feet early. Asian Champion Wang Zhi Yi is the top seed.
Sindhu, who recently parted ways with Korean coach Park Tae-sang, said at the All England that she was still looking for a new coach.
The task to return to the final for the second straight year is much more difficult for Prannoy as he starts off against All England Open runner-up Shi Yuqi. Prannoy, who won this event in 2016 before coming close to ending the title drought in 2022, is in the same quarter as Viktor Axelsen too. The Dane could be raring to go the distance after a shock early exit at his favourite event last week in Birmingham and that isn’t good news for the rest of the field.
Sen started 2022 with a title at India Open and runner-up finishes at German Open and All England. In 2023, it’s been round 2, round 1, round 2 exits respectively in these three events and that has seen his ranking points dip considerably as he finds himself world No 25 right now. While he looked good in his win against Chou Tien Chen at All England, the defeat against Anders Antonsen must frustrate him, if not for the result but for his inability to force the decider even from a strong position in game two.
Sen will start off against Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu and a potential second round awaits against Kidambi Srikanth, who won’t have it easy in the opening round against the explosive Weng Hong Yang of China. Srikanth is a former winner of this event too (2015).
Kiran George and Mithun Manjunath have been promoted to the main draw from the qualifiers and will be looking to impress.
In a lukewarm season on tour so far, there have been sparks of brilliance from the doubles side of things. Chirag-Satwik will begin their campaign against a qualifier but trickier tests await them, with potentially a quarterfinal against Leo Rolly Carnando and Daniel Marthin of Indonesia, another pair fast rising through the ranks.
While the highlight of the year so far has been Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand’s second straight semifinal appearance at All England, the luck of the draw seems not in their favour in Switzerland. They open their campaign against second seeds Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti from Indonesia, one of the best pairs going around the circuit. Of course, the Indian youngsters have shown they are capable of upsetting the odds and in a way, the attacking style of the Indonesians too will be a better match-up for them than the Koreans. A win in this fixture would be another massive shot in the arm for the duo.
Back on the tour after an injury layoff for MR Arjun, the pairing of him and Dhruv Kapila as well as Krishna Prasad Garaga-Vishnuvardhan Goud are also in the men’s doubles main draw, and the women’s combination of Ashwini Bhat K-Shikha Gautam, are also in the fray.
Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto, the combination of veteran and rising teen, are in the qualification draw for women’s doubles. With both keen to do well in this new adventure, it will be worth keeping an eye out for them especially as Crasto will have to focus on women’s doubles for a while due to Ishaan Bhatnagar’s serious recent injury.
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Qualification action and few main draw matches in doubles begin in Basel on Tuesday, with plenty of Indian interest. Gayatri-Treesa headline the day’s set of matches. Aakarshi Kashyap and Maisnam Meiraba are also in action in the singles qualification round.
Opening day update: Treesa Jolly-Gayatri Gopichand bow out, Malvika Bansod enters main draw