Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu has been handed a relatively easy draw, but it is difficult to wait for Saina Nehwal as the Indian pair make their return to international competition in Thailand, nearly 10 months after the COVID-19 epidemic hit all tournaments globally. Have stopped
Sindhu and Saina did not participate in the Denmark Open Super 750 and SaarLorks Super 100 – the only two events that were forced by the BWF to suspend the calendar following the completion of the All England Championship in March.
All eyes are now on two Super 1000 events – Yonex Thailand Open (12–17 January) and Toyota Thailand Open (19–24 January), the world’s best comeback after a long break.
Sixth seeded World Champion Sindhu will be up against Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark, while Saina, who has recently overcome COVID-19, will face third seeded Japanese Nozomi Okuhara in the first round. In the next tournament, Sindhu, who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and has been training in London for the last two months, will take on Thailand’s Busanan Ongbramungfan in the opening round, while London Olympics bronze medalist Saina is another Thai star player. Ratchanok Inthan will win against fourth seed.
According to the draw announced by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Tuesday, the 25-year-old Sindhu has finished sixth in both tournaments.
In the men’s singles, a total of seven Indians, including former number seven Kidambi Srikanth, Olympic-bound B Sai Praneeth and Yuva Lakshya Sen, will compete in both events.
Srikanth, who reached the quarter-finals at the Denmark Open in October, will be waving swords with fellow Indian Saurabh Verma in the opening round in the first Thailand event, while Laxman, who lost in the second round at Odense, will face Denmark’s Rasamus Gemke.
Praneeth will fight it out against local player Kantaphone Wangcharoen.
HS Prannoy will take on eight seed Li Zi Jia of Malaysia, former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap meets Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto while Sameer Verma faces Indonesia’s Seser Hiren Rostavito.
Srikanth will take on local player Sittikom Thammasin in the second event and Praneeth will take on Malaysia’s Daren LEY in a relatively easy draw, but will face a goal against second seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei. Among others, Kashyap will face Ganke, Prannoy will face sixth seed and Indonesia Asian Games champion Jonathan Christi, while Verma brothers – Sameer and Saurabh will take on eight seed Zi Jia and fifth seed Anthony Sinuka Guinting respectively.
The Indian men’s pair of Satvikasairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who have also qualified for the Tokyo Games, will face the Korean combination of Kim Gi Jung and Lee Yong Da in the first event, while it will be an all-India duel in the second tournament. No 10 pair of worlds taking Manu Attri and B Sumeth Reddy
Thailand has been dealing with pro-democracy protest movements and has also seen an increase in COVID-19 cases recently.
However, the BWF said, “YONEX Thailand Open and Toyota Thailand Open, in addition to the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals will be planned for the season ending, with the world’s best badminton players landing in Bangkok, Thailand.” Chinese players, however, will miss two incidents.
“The Chinese Badminton Association (CBA) has also confirmed its team’s withdrawal from both tournaments,” the world governing body said in a statement.
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