Newly-crowned national champions Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy will look to enhance their chances of qualifying for the Dubai Superseries Finals with a good performance at the $700,000 China Open Superseries Premier in Fuzhou on Tuesday.
Former world No 1 Saina upstaged Olympic silver-medallist PV Sindhu in the Nationals to claim her third crown, while Prannoy stunned Kidambi Srikanth to clinch his maiden title at the 82nd edition of the event at Nagpur.
Interestingly, both Saina and Prannoy are ranked 11th in the Dubai Ranking and are racing against time to book a berth at next month’s SuperSeries Final with just two events – China Open and Hong Kong Open – left in the calendar.
The 27-year-old, whose redemption from a career-threatening injury started with a bronze medal at the World Championships, will open her campaign against USA’s Beiwen Zhang. Prannoy, meanwhile, will face a qualifier in the opening round. However, Srikanth, who is riding an all-time high having clinched four titles and reached five finals in this season, will be taking a break this week to nurse a muscle strain.
Sindhu has also been in impressive form this season, lifting two superseries titles – India Open and Korea Open – besides winning a silver at the World Championship. She too, will be looking to get back to winning ways after the setback against Nehwal. The 22-year-old will begin her journey against Japan’s Sayaka Sato, who clinched the Indonesia Open this year.
If the Indian can cross the first two rounds, she might once again run into Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara. Sourabh Verma meets France’s Brice Leverdez, who had knocked out Chong Wei at the World Championship opener,
The men’s pair of Manu Atri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who won the Nationals last week, face the top-seeded Indonesian combo of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will take on fifth-seeded Chinese combo of Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan.
National champions Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy will cross swords with the Korean combo of Ha Na Baek and Chae Yoo Jung in women’s doubles. In the qualifiers, national champions Satwiksairaj and Ashwini will look to make it to the main draw when they face Chinese Taipei’s Lee Jhe-Huei and Wu Ti Jung.