Indian shuttlers will hope to give a better account of themselves at Toyota Thailand Open Super 1000 tournament, starting in Bangkok on Tuesday, after a lacklustre show last week in the first tournament since badminton’s return in 2021.
The Indian players seemed to struggle with their fitness as none of the singles stars could cross the second round at the Yonex Thailand Open, the first event of the Asia leg in Bangkok.
Barring Kidambi Srikanth, it was the first tournament for the whole Indian contingent in nearly 10 months and everyone seemed to struggle with the match conditions.
Olympic medallist PV Sindhu struggled to keep pace with her first-round opponent Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt while Saina Nehwal simply ran out of steam against Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the second round.
World no 13 B Sai Praneeth looked a mismatch against Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen, while former world no 1 Srikanth and 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap were either forced to withdraw or retire after suffering calf muscle pulls.
The draws for the upcoming tournament will also be challenging.
Sixth seed Sindhu, a medal contender at Tokyo Games, has been training at London for last two months and she will be itching to go deep in the draw when she opens against world no 12 Busanan, who had outlasted Saina last week.
Saina, who recently recovered from Covid-19 and had to go through the ordeal of a false positive test last week, will however have an imposing task as she faces fourth seed and home favourite Ratchanok Intanon in the opening round.
Saina, who is currently world no 20, has a 11-5 head-to-head record against Intanon, a former world champion but the Indian will have to play out of her skin against the Thai star, who had reached the quarterfinals last week.
Sai Praneeth will need to find his rhythm when he takes on Daren Liew of Malaysia, while world no 14 Srikanth, who had withdrawn from the second round match after complaining of a calf muscle pull, faces Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin, an opponent he has beaten twice in the past.
Kashyap, who had retired in the decider against Jason Anthony Ho-Shue of Canada last week, will face Denmark’s world no 17 Rasmus Gemke. HS Prannoy will look to put behind last week’s first-round loss when he takes on the formidable Indonesian Jonatan Christie, who is seeded sixth.
The Verma brothers will also have their task cut out as Sourabh is pitted against fifth seed Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the first round, while Sameer crosses swords with the speedy Malaysian Lee Zii Jia, seeded eighth.
The only silver linning from last week was the performance of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who looked impressive during their win over the South Korean combination of Lee Yong Dae and Kim Gi Jung in the opening round.
The duo will open against fellow Indians Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, while Satwik and Ashwini Ponnapa, who had defeated sixth-seeded Indonesians Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emmanuelle Widjaja in a thrilling match just days ago, will take on Danish pairing of Niclas Nohr and Amalie Magelund.
Ashwini and N Sikki Reddy will meet the German pairing of Linda Efler and Isabel Herttrich in their opener.
With PTI Inputs