Indian shuttlers have not had a great 2016 so far, and, therefore, will be keen to perform in front of their home fans in the upcoming India Open, starting Tuesday at Siri Fort Complex in Delhi. As always, Saina Nehwal will be the star player for India in the women's category while Kidambi Srikanth is India's biggest hopes in the men's draw.
Despite playing at home, where the Indian shuttlers will receive immense support, it is going to a hard task to shine in the presence of some big names of world badminton. Li Xuerui, Ratchanok Intanon, Sung Ji Hyun and other female shutters are set to entertain badminton fans in India, while the men will have players such as Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan and Kento Momota to take the competition to another level.
PV Sindhu, who was originally scheduled to face Carolina Marin in the first round, should consider herself lucky as the world number one has decided to withdraw from the competition. Sindhu will now face a relatively easier opponent in the form of Jeanine Cicognini, but could run into Japanese Minatsu Mitani in the second round.
Saina, too, does not have a tough fixture in the opening round as she is set to meet a qualifier, but the competition is only expected to be tougher in the future rounds. Saina could meet Sung Ji and Xuerui in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the India Open respectively. Saina is capable of beating both the shuttlers on her day, but injuries of late have affected her movement on court, and opponents have taken advantage of it.
Saina needs to take her performance to another level if she wants to win the India Open, which can act as a huge morale-booster ahead of the Rio Olympics, scheduled in August.
In the men's arena, Indian shuttlers have a humongous ask. India's top-ranked male shuttler Srikanth will face seventh seed Tian Houwei in the first round and then could Jan O Jorgensen in the quarters. Ajay Jayaram and HS Prannoy will face Marc Zwiebler and Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk in their opening rounds respectively.
Parupalli Kashyap has withdrawn from the India Open due to injury.
There are as many as 10 pairs in the women's doubles for India, but all eyes will be on Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa. The Indian pair will face relatively unknown opponents in the form of Go Ah Ra and Yoo Hae Won from South Korea, and they are expected to reach the second round where they might face eighth seed Selena Piek and Eefje Muskens.
In the men's doubles, there are eight Indian pairs, but the main focus lies on Mannu Attri and B.Sumeeth Reddy, who have participated in many Superseries competitions in the past.
Male: Lee Chong Wei, Jan O Jorgensen, Lin Dan and Kento Momota's
India: Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Ajay Jayaram and B Sai Praneeth
Female: Ratchanok Intanon Li Xuerui and Sung Ji Hyun
India: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu
Male: Chai Biao and Hong Wei, Kim Gi Jung and Korkim Sa Rang
India: Mannu Attri and B.Sumeeth Reddy, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar, Vineeth Manuel and S. Sanjeeth,
Female: Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Greysia Polii, Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl
India: Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, Aparna Balan and Prajakta Sawant
Venue: Siri Fort Complex, Delhi
1st Round –Wednesday
2nd Round – Thursday
Quarterfinals – Friday
Semifinals - Saturday
Final – Sunday
TV listings: India: Star Sports 4/HD (Friday onwards).