India will pin their hopes on three badminton players -- Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth -- to deliver the goods in the India Open Superseries at the Siri Fort Complex in New Delhi, where the main rounds start Wednesday. Along with Saina, Sindhu and Srikanth, other established Indian players such as B Sai Praneeth, HS Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram will also be seen in action in their respective first round singles matches.
One has not seen the best of Saina in 2016, which is a major concern as the Rio Olympics is just a few months away. Saina is India's biggest hope for a medal, and it is such Superseries tournaments where the world number six needs to come out all guns blazing to win the title.
Saina has an easy first round match, on paper, against Indian qualifier Tanvi Lad. She can use such matches to get into the groove for the competition ahead, which is only going to get tougher with number of top players participating in the competition.
The same can be said of PV SIndhu, who is set to face Jeanine Cicognini, who should not trouble the Indian player much. There is no doubt about Sindhu's class, with the lanky Indian defeating top players in the past. But, her consistency has been the major problem. However, when on song, she is one of the most dangerous players in the badminton circuit.
In the men's section, Indian shuttlers have been below par in 2016. None of the Indian players reached the quarterfinals of the All England Open earlier in the month, but with shuttlers such as Srikanth, Jayaram and Prannoy playing at home, there are certain expectations.
Srikanth has a huge game in the opening round, against the seventh seed Tian Houwei, who has a mighty impressive record against the top-ranked Indian shuttler. Houwei has defeated Srikanth five times in their six meetings. It remains to be seen if Srikanth can improve upon this record in the India Open.
Prannoy and Jayaram will face Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and Marc Zwiebler in the first round, while Praneeth has been handed a winnable match, against qualifier Sony Dwi Kuncoro.
Where to follow live
B.Sai Praneeth vs Sony Dwi Kuncoro (11:40 a.m IST)
Ajay Jayaram vs Marc Zwiebler (1:40 p.m IST)
Kidambi Srikanth vs Tian Houwei (3:40 p.m IST)
Saina Nehwal vs Tanvi Lad (3:40 p.m IST)
HS Prannoy vs Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (6:20 p.m IST)
PV Sindhu vs Jeanine Cicognini (7 p.m IST)