The iconic Istora Senayan in Jakarta takes center-stage once again in the badminton calendar. One of badminton’s most revered venues will play host to one of the biggest events of the year as the Indonesia Open Super 1000 starts on Tuesday, at the business end of a long Asian swing of events.

It is the third Super 1000 event (Grade 2 event) of the 2023 BWF World Tour.

The Olympic qualification period has been underway since the Sudirman Cup last month and it’s fair to say, things haven’t gone all too well for Indian shuttlers. The draw at Indonesia Open hasn’t been kind to Indian shuttlers, with some opening-round challenges lined up for the likes of HS Prannoy, PV Sindhu and Co. Prannoy and the doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are the seeded entries from India, with the former No 7 in men’s singles and the latter are No 7 in men’s doubles.

The highlight so far in the Paris 2024 cycle has undoubtedly been Prannoy’s long-awaited title after a fine run at Malaysia Masters and he will be raring to go again in Indonesia where he had an impressive outing last year. In fact, Prannoy has had two memorable outings at this event, also reaching the semi-finals in 2017.

HS Prannoy at Indonesia Open:

2017: Defeated Anthony Ginting, Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long to reach the semi-final (Srikanth won the tournament after Prannoy lost against Kazumasa Sakai)

2022: Defeated Lakshya Sen, Ng Ka Long Angus, Rasmus Gemke to reach the semi-final (Axelsen won the tournament after Prannoy lost against Zhao Jun Peng)

Prannoy, who claimed the Malaysia Masters Super 500 title last month but lost a tough opening round match against Kodai Naraoka last week in Thailand, will face a tricky test against Kenta Nishimoto of Japan. In another one of badminton’s quirks, the first-round pits the world No 8 and world No 11. Prannoy trails 1-2 in the Head-to-Head against Nishimoto but won their last meeting on his way to the title in Malaysia. It was a 91-minute lung-buster.

A first-round win will mean Prannoy will face the winner of the match between former world No 1 Kento Momota and Ng Ka Long Angus, which promises to be a tricky second round either way. A likely quarter-final meeting will be against one of the finalists from last week in Singapore, as Kodai Naraoka and Anders Antonsen meet in the opening round.

Srikanth Kidambi faces a tough test against Lu Guang Zu of China, the world No 13. But the Indian has won all four meetings against Lu in the past.

Arguably one of the most anticipated ties of the first round is Lakshya Sen vs Lee Zii Jia, a rematch of last year’s All England semi-final. The CWG 2022 champion has showed glimpses of getting back to his best, reaching the semi-final at Thailand Open couple of weeks back. And he has a 2-1 favourable H2H against Lee, eighth seed from Malaysia. Lee has had a rollercoaster season himself and has slipped to 10th in the world while Sen is back in the world’s top 20 now.

Priyanshu Rajawat is a late confirmation for the main draw, with the withdrawal of couple of singles players from the field.

The men’s singles field also sees the return of world No 1 Viktor Axelsen to action. The two-time defending champion of this event has missed the last few weeks on tour after an injury he picked up at Sudirman Cup.

Can Sindhu pass the Tunjung test?

Sindhu comes into this week on the back of two straight first-round exits too. There was heartbreak for the Indian last week against world No 1 Akane Yamaguchi, despite winning the opening game. Sindhu was reportedly tearful after the match in an interview with BWF.

She was quoted as saying, “Progress wise, it’s been fine. But today was anybody’s game. Overall, I’m happy I’m back on court after the injury because sometimes… sometimes it’s really hard to lose close matches but I’m going to come back stronger. It’s important I go back and learn from my mistakes. It’s an Olympic qualification year so I just want to get back to my best and stay injury free.”

Things, however, only get trickier. It so happens that you wait so long for a bus and suddenly two come along together. Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung had seven straight defeats against PV Sindhu, but this season, has won both the meetings against the Indian superstar. The Madrid Masters final and Malaysia Masters semi-final saw Tunjung trouble Sindhu endlessly with her drop shots, winning both matches in straight games.

The struggle for Sindhu has been finding consistency. While she often shows sparks in her matches, she hits a rut where she struggles to put a brake on things when under pressure. She will need to be at her attacking best to put the pressure back on Tunjung.

It doesn’t get any easier though, as she is likely to face Tai Tzu Ying in the second round, the former world No 1 starting with a match against China’s Han Yue. And then, should she manage to navigate the two rounds, she is likely to face Carolina Marin in the quarter-finals. Yep, that’s how the draw rolls sometimes.

Former champion Saina Nehwal, who has a great record in Indonesia in general, is one of the last-minute withdrawals. Apart from Nehwal, Srikanth is the only other Indian (in his epic 2017 season) to win the title in Indonesia. Aakarshi Kashyap faces arguably the toughest test in badminton right now, when she takes on the red-hot Korean superstar An Se Young.

Pause, rewind, play: When a 19-year-old Saina Nehwal won her first Superseries title in Indonesia

Can Satwik-Chirag bounce back?

It hasn’t been the best of starts to the Olympic qualification cycle for the Asian champions but Commonwealth Games champions and world No 5 will be looking to go deep in Jakarta. The Indians were supposed to face their nemesis Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia in the opening round. But the former World No 1 have pulled out of the tournament. The Indians take on the Popov brothers of France instead, and have a 1-0 H2H.

Satwik and Chirag had claimed the Swiss Open title this season and followed it up with arguably their biggest title yet at the Asian Championships. But they have looked off the pace the last couple of weeks and will hope to hit the ground running. They are in the same quarter as top seeds Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto.

MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila take on eighth seeds Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi.

In women’s doubles, Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand Pullela face a tough test too against world No 20 but in-form Japan’s Rin Iwanaga and Kie Nakanishi in the opening round. The Indians, though ranked higher, will face a pair who are coming into this match with some huge wins in the last three weeks (three wins vs top-10 pairs).