The All England Open is one of the most prestigious events in the badminton calendar, as top shuttlers from all around the world battle it out to win the coveted Superseries title. Players such as Saina Nehwal, Carolina Marin, Li Xuerui, Chen Long, Lin Dan and Jan O Jorgensen are some of the major players who will target the the All England Open title at Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham.
All the top shuttlers will be eager to perform their best in the All England Open, as it is the Olympic year as well. Winning such Superseries titles can help them accumualte important points, and climb up the ranking charts.
India will pin their hopes on Saina and PV Sindhu in the women's singles, while Kidambi Srikanth is India's best player in the men's competition.
Saina has been out of action for some time owing to injuries. The Indian shuttler did not participate in the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold, the South Asian Games and the Badminton Asia Team Championships so that she could go into the All England Open fresh. Not only does she need to be fit, but she also need to come up with brilliant shuttle play to emerge victorious, considering the quality of players in the competition.
Second seed Saina will meet Canada's Michelle Li in the first round, and the Indian is expected to meet the fifth seed, Sung Ji Hyun, in the quarterfinals. She could run into either compatriot Sindhu or Li Xuerui in the semifinals, while a repeat of the final from last year, against champion Carolina Marin, is also possible.
Xuerui has a tough second round match-up against India's Sindhu, who is set to meet Thailand's Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in her first round match.
The other half of the women's draw has some top players, including Nozomi Okuhara, Ratchanak Intanon, Wang Yihan and Marin. If Marin and Wang, who are both favourites to win the title, play to their potential, they could meet in what will be mouthwatering semifinal.
In the men's department, India have a tough road ahead. B. Sai Praneeth will meet second seed, Lee Chong Wei in the first round, while Srikanth could run into Kento Momota in the second round. Both the Indian stars are going to be massive underdogs in their respective matches. HS Prannoy will face Xue Song in the first round. Ajay Jayaram could meet Jan O Jorgensen in the second round.
Top seed Chen Long should not have any problem in reaching the All England Open final, but two Danes -- Viktor Axelsen and Jorgensen -- will be keen to halt his All England run. Long could face both Axelsen (quarterfinal) and Jorgensen (semifinal). The other half of the draw is an interesting one with Chong Wei and Momota top favourites to reach the final.
Important first round fixtures
Carolina Marin vs Bae Yeon Ju
Sun Yu vs Ratchanak Intanon
Wang Shixian vs Line Kjaersfeldt
Li Xuerui vs Ya Ching
Jan OJorgensen vs Hsu Jen Hao
Lin Dan vs Lee Dong Keun
Chou Tien vs Chen vs Tommy Sugiarto
Indian interest in first round*
Saina Nehwal vs Michelle Li
PV SIndhu vs Porntip Buranaprasertsuk
HS Prannoy vs Xue Song
Ajay Jayaram vs Ng Ka Long Angus
Kidambi Srikanth vs Rajiv OUseph
B. Sai Praneeth vs Lee Chong Wei
Dates and time:
First round: Wednesday (starts from 9 a.m. GMT, 2:30 p.m. IST)
Second round: Thursday (12 p.m GMT, 5:30 p.m IST)
Quarterfinals: Friday (4 p.m GMT, 9:30 p.m IST)
Semifinals: Saturday (12 p.m GMT, 5:30 p.m IST)
Final: Sunday (11:30 a.m GMT, 5 p.m IST)
TV listings: India: Star Sports 4/HD (Thursday onwards). The UK: Eurosport (Friday onwards)