As the badminton tour resumes after a brief break, PV Sindhu will be expected to lead the Indian charge as they Canada Open Super 500 begins on Tuesday, in Calgary.
The 27-year-old has struggled for form after recovering from a stress fracture she sustained during her run to the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold. The former World Champion lost in the first round of the first three events she played this year.
The rough patch has seen her fall out of the top 10 rankings for the first time since 2016. But she will be looking to get back to winning ways to earn precious rankings points in the race for Paris 2024 Olympic qualification.
Seeded fourth in Calgary, Sindhu will begin her campaign against home-hope and world No 61 Talia Ng. A win there would take her to a second-round meeting against either world No 20 Aya Ohori of Japan or her compatriot and world No 27 Natsuki Nidaira.
Sindhu boasts a 13-0 head-to-head record against Ohori and beat he during her semi-final run in Malaysia. In the third round, Sindhu was originally projected to meet the eight seed and a familiar rival Nozomi Okuhara, but the former world No 1 shuttler has withdrawn from the event.
In the semi-final, Sindhu could face current world No 1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan. Sindhu has a 14-10 record against Yamaguchi. The Japanese won their last meeting which was an hour-long three-set marathon in the first round at Singapore.
Also in the women’s singles main draw with Sindhu is Ruthvika Shivani Gadde, who will play Thailand’s Supanida Katethong in the first round.
Lakshya Sen in action
In the men’s singles draw, Lakshya Sen has been drawn up against a familiar rival in Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn, the current world No 3.
The duo had met just last month in the semi-final of the Thailand Open Super 500, where the home-favourite went on to win a tight match 13-21, 21-17, 21-13.
So far, the duo have faced each other eight times over the course of a rivalry that first started from their junior days.
Along with Sen, 2016 men’s singles champion B Sai Praneeth is in the main draw of the competition. Ranked 72 in the world, the 30-year-old was originally in the qualification round, but gained a direct entry into the main draw after defending champion Alex Lanier withdrew from the tournament.
Praneeth will take on Brazil’s Ygor Coelho. Should Praneeth make it to the second round, he will face the winner of the match between Sen and Vitidsarn.
Meanwhile, Parupalli Kashyap starts his campaign in the qualification round, where he will face Germany’s Kai Schaefer.
Only one men’s team has a direct entry into the main draw of the men’s doubles event. Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala – the India No 3 and world No 37 team – were expected to take on the French team of Julien Maio and William Villeger. However, after the withdrawal of the French team, they will now face Chinese Taipei’s Chen Zhi Ray and Lu Chen in the first round.
In the women’s doubles, sisters Rituparna and Swetaparna Panda are the only team from India in the draw. They face Canada’s Jacqueline Cheung and Jeslyn Chow.
Originally, there was another women’s doubles team expected to compete – Tanisha Crasto and Ashwini Ponappa. However, it appears that the latter has had to withdraw, due to which the women’s doubles pairing have given a walkover to Australia’s Kaitlyn Ea and Gronya Somerville.
Similarly, Japan’s Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo move into the second round of the mixed doubles event after Ponappa and B Sumeeth Reddy’s withdrawal.