Following the revamp of Badminton World Federation (BWF) calendar, India will host its first major tournament — Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta India Open, which will be played between January 30 and February 4 at Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi.
Rio Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu and defending champion will start the BWF World Tour Super 500 as the top seed in the women's singles category, while two-time champion Saina Nehwal is seeded fourth.
Meanwhile, there are quite a few notable exclusions as world number one women's singles player Tai Tzu Ying and her men's singles counterpart Viktor Axelsen are absent from the field. Also, world number two shuttlers Akane Yamaguchi and Lee Chong Wei are not taking part in the tournament.
In Axelsen's absence, world number three Kidambi Srikanth is the highest seeded men's singles player at two. World number 10 HS Prannoy starts the tournament as the fifth seed. Notably, both the in-form shuttlers took a break after the Premier Badminton League (PBL) campaign and will be playing their first international tournaments of 2018 at home.
Last year's Singapore Open winner Sai Praneeth, who was ousted from Indonesia Master's in the second round, is seeded eight for the India Open. The likes of Subhankar Dey, who has replaced Axelsen in the draw, Ajay Jayaram, Parupalli Kashyap, Saurabh and Sameer Verma are also in the men's singles fray.
Ashwini Ponnappa/Sikki Reddy (WD - 6), Jakkampudi Meghana/Poorvisha S Ram (WD - 7) and Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki (XD - 8) are among the seeded doubles pairs. Also, impressive young men's doubles pairing of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will open their campaign against Hong Kong's Chang Tak Ching/Hee Chung Mak.
Live stream and TV coverage
India: TV: Star Sports Select 2/HD; Live streaming: Hotstar
Worldwide live stream: BWF YouTube channel
Malaysia: TV: Astro Arena: Live streaming: Astro Go
China: TV: CCTV 5+
Women's singles draw preview
Sindhu, who lost the Indonesia Masters quarter-final to compatriot Saina, will open her title defence against Denmark's Natalia Koch Rohde. She is likely to take on eighth-seeded Spanish shuttler Beatriz Corrales in the quarter-final.
Third seed Thailand shuttler Ratchanok Intanon, who was beaten in Indonesia Masters semi-final by Saina, may face Sindhu in the last-four stages in New Delhi.
On the other hand, fit-again Saina will be confident after her runner-up finish last week at the Indonesia Masters.
The 27-year-old opens her campaign against Denmark's Sofie Holmboe Dahl on Wednesday, January 31. She is likely to face USA's Beiwen Zhang in the quarters and a stern test against second seed Carolina Marin is on the cards.
Men's singles draw preview
Srikanth, who won four Superseries titles in his remarkable 2017 season, will take on Hong Kong's Lee Cheuk Yiu in the first round on Wednesday.
Having handed an easy draw, Srikanth will be well served if he manages to overcome fourth seed Shi Yuqi in a possible semi-final clash.
On the other hand, the withdrawal of Axelsen has helped Prannoy's cause as the fifth seed has an easy route to the quarter-final. He may face compatriot Sai or third seed Chou Tien Chen in the semi-final.
|Men's singles||Women's singles|
|1. Viktor Axelsen [Denmark]||1. PV Sindhu [India]|
|2. Kidambi Srikanth [India]||2. Carolina Marin [Spain]|
|3. Chou Tien Chen [Taiwan]||3. Ratchanok Intanon [Thailand]|
|4. Shi Yuqi [China]||4. Saina Nehwal [India]|
|5. HS Prannoy [India]||5. Beiwen Zhang [USA]|
|6. Tzu Wei Wang [Taiwan]||6. Cheung Ngan Yi [Hong Kong]|
|7. Anders Antonsen [Denmark]||7. Yip Pui Yin [Hong Kong]|
|8. Sai Praneeth [India]||8. Beatriz Corrales [Spain]|
Key matches to watch out for on Wednesday, January 31
- Sai Praneeth  vs Rajiv Ouseph - 9:40am local time
- Sourabh Verma vs Shi Yuqi  - 4:20pm local time
- Ajay Jayaram vs Tommy Sugiarto - 5pm local time
- Sameer Verma vs Anders Antonsen  - 6pm local time