Newly-crowned All England Open champion Chen Yufei and defending men’s singles champion Shi Yuqi have been given the top billing at India Open which begins at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi on 26 March.
After eight years at the Siri Fort Sports Complex, this time the $350, 000 tournament will not only have a brand-new address but is also set to welcome the biggest ever Chinese Contingent.
The Indian challenge will be spearheaded by second seed and 2017 winner PV Sindhu and two-time champion Saina Nehwal, seeded fifth this time.
Sindhu takes on another Indian Mugdha Agrey while Nehwal will face Cai Yanyan in their first round fixtures. Sindhu could face defending champion Beiwen Zhang in the semi-final while Intanon will offer a tough test to Nehwal in the quarter-finals should they both progress past the opening rounds.
Vrushali Gummadi, Sai Uttejitha Rao are the other Indians in the main draw of women’s singles.
India has a strong representation in the men’s singles section with six shuttlers vying for the title. While 2015 champion Kidambi Srikanth has been seeded third, BWF World Tour Finals semi-finalist Sameer Verma is the fifth seed.
Srikanth takes on Wong Wing Ki Vincent while Verma will face Rasmus Gemke in the opening round.
Sai Praneeth, HS Prannoy, Parupalli Kashyap, Subhankar Dey will carry the home hopes as well.
The third-seeded men’s’ doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will begin their 2019 season at the India Open amid a lot of expectations. Former National Champions Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy are the only other Indian pair to have been seeded at sixth.
2018 World Championships quarter-finalists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa are the eighth seeds in the mixed doubles draw, which is led by the Chinese pair of Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping, the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals champions.
Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy are unseeded and could face the fourth seeds Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja in the second round.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist combine of Reddy and Ponnappa will look to pull off an upset over the sixth seeds Li Wenmei and Zheng Yu in the women’s doubles.
Having upset world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the final of the All England Open last week, world No 2 Yufei will command a lot of attention as she battles it out with India’s best at the World Tour Super 500 event.
The main draw of women’s singles has as many as six Chinese shuttlers, with world No 7 He Bingjiao and world No 14 Han Yue receiving the third and seventh seeding respectively. Former champion and 2012 Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui makes her return while Chen Xiaoxin and Cai Yanyan are the other Chinese in the draw.
Shi Yuqi, whose All England title defence ended in the semi-finals to Viktor Axelsen, will hope to rebound at the India Open. The world No 2 Chinese, who begins his challenge against compatriot Huang Yuxiang, could meet his countryman Zhou Zeqi in the quarter-finals. Lu Guangzu and ranked Zhao Junpeng will clash in yet another all-Chinese face-off.
The highly popular Viktor Axelsen, second seed this time and winner in 2017, will look to continue his comeback after reaching the final of the All England Open.