The India Open – the biggest badminton tournament held in India – has been upgraded to a Super 750 this year and will see the world’s best players in action in Delhi from Tuesday.
Last year, Lakshya Sen and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty won at home, making it a memorable outing for Indian badminton. However, the 2023 edition may not bode as well, with most of the Indians getting tough draws.
HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen and Kidambi Srikanth have all been placed in the same quarter, which means only one Indian can progress to the men’s singles semifinals. And that quarter of death also has world No 1 Viktor Axelsen.
In women’s singles, PV Sindhu will open against Thailand’s Supanida Katethong, who beat her in the last edition of the India Open while Saina Nehwal is in the same quarter.
Here’s a closer look at the draws and chances of the Indians in action at the India Open:
What can one say about this draw? To repeat what was said in last week’s Malaysia Open preview and Prannoy’s tweet: “Lakshya Sen looks like Tournament Software wants to see only us playing against each other in all tournaments.”
HS Prannoy’s stellar run in 2022 has made him India’s top-ranked men’s singles player. YUICHI YAMAZAKI/AFP via Getty Images
The two highest-ranked Indians in men’s singles play each other again, a week after Prannoy prevailed in a thrilling three-game battle to level their head-to-head 3-3. (They played each other five times in 2022.) He went out in the quarters of the Super 1000 to eventual finalist Kodai Naraoka.
This time, Lakshya is the defending champion while Prannoy is now India’s No 1 after a consistent run last year. There is little to separate the two Indians and they are sure to give the home crowd an entertaining match. The winner faces either Rasmus Gemke or Kento Momota, who withdrew last week, with a potential quarterfinal against Axelsen.
Meanwhile, Srikanth, who lost in the first round to Kenta Nishimoto in Malaysia, faces the Malaysia Open champion and the man-who-does-not-lose-big-titles: Axelsen. Srikanth trails 3-9 in H2H and his only chance is to play his absolute best and hope Sunday’s title run has taken some energy off the world and Olympic champion. The winner will run into Shi Yu Qi, on the comeback trail, or Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo.
PV Sindhu vs Supanida Katethong
Saina Nehwal vs Mia Blichfeldt
Malvika Bansod vs Busanan Ongbamrungphan
Aakarshi Kashyap vs Beiwen Zhang
Fifth seed Sindhu faces Kathethong in a repeat of last edition’s semi-final clash which she lost in three games. The Indian has a 3-1 record against her, last year being the only loss.
Sindhu will look to win her first tournament since the 2022 CWG. Photo by How Foo Yeen/Getty Images
Sindhu is still on a comeback trail, after missing the last five months due to a stress fracture sustained during her gold run at Commonwealth Games. She lost her opener in Malaysia but that may also be because she was up against Carolina Marin. Delhi could be a better testing ground for her. If she wins, she will be up against Kirsty Gilmour or Yvonne Li.
Saina Nehwal is also in the same quarter, starting against Mia Blichfeldt who has a 2-0 winning record. The winner will likely face third seed Chen Yu Fei, the other seed in the quarter. If Saina can upset the Olympic champion, there could be a Sindhu vs Saina clash on the cards.
India no. 1️⃣’s have arrived at #YonexSunriseIndiaOpen2023. ����
– BAI Media (@BAI_Media) January 15, 2023
Last edition’s semifinalist Aakarshi Kashyap starts against former India Open champion Beiwen Zhang, who she lost to in their only meeting so far. If she progresses, she could play the seventh seed, Wang Zhi Yi.
Malvika Bansod will take on Thailand’s world no 11 Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the first round, in what is their first meeting. If she wins, she will likely face eighth seed Pornpawee Chochuwong.
Defending champions Satwik and Chirag start against Scotland’s Christopher Grimley and Matthew Grimley who they beat in their one meeting . A win see them either play Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi – who they beat in a sensational fightback last week – or Ben Lane and Sean Vendy, who they defeated in the CWG final. They face a likely quarterfinal against top seeds Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi of Japan. But the Indians have a 3-1 record against them and beat them in their last two matches in 2022.
The projected semifinal will be against the ‘Daddies’ – Indonesia’s Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan – who they beat in the final last year, while the two teams they are yet to beat – one of their goals of 2023 – in the other half of the draw. If Satwik and Chirag hit their stride, with a home crowd backing them, they could well be making a second straight semifinal this month.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty in action How Foo Yeen/Getty Images
Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala start against Ruben Jille and Ties Van Der Lecq and a win will them against Ahsan and Setiawan.
MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, who withdrew from Malaysia last week, will not be part of India Open as well and will likely miss the entire Asian circuit due to injury. Arjun had suffered a ligament tear in his ankle during training at French Open last year and is still to recover completely.
Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand vs Margot Lambert and Anne Tran
Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam vs Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan
Haritha Manazhiyil Ashna Roy vs Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu
Shruti Mishra and Sikki Reddy vs Linda Efler Isabel Lohau
India’s top-ranked women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand start against Margot Lambert and Anne Tran, who have a 2-0 record against them. If they win, they will face a tough test against sixth seeds Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu. Top seeds Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan are also in this quarter.
Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam, who reached quarters last year in Delhi, will play eighth seeds Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan in what is their first meeting.
Two other Indian women’s doubles pairs have been promoted from reserves. Haritha Manazhiyil and Ashna Roy have been drawn to play Chinese sixth seeds Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu while Shruti Mishra and Sikki Reddy will take Linda Efler Isabel Lohau of Germany. It is the first meeting for both pairs. If Haritha and Ashna win, there could be an all-Indian clash on the cards with Treesa and Gayatri.
India’s only entry in mixed doubles, Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Castro will face Netherlands’ Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek. The pairs have not played before. A win will see them up against fifth seeds Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yu Jung.