PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth Hope For A Turnaround; Focus On HS Prannoy And Lakshya Sen In Australian Open
Star Indian shuttlers PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth will look to arrest their slump in form when they begin their campaign at the Australia Open badminton tournament in Sydney on Tuesday. The USD 420,000 event, which has been upgraded to a Super 500 tournament, will be the last chance for Sindhu and Srikanth to regain their touch ahead of the World Championships to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 world champion, Sindhu hasn’t looked the part since her recovery from an injury as she has repeatedly made early exits in as many as seven of the 12 BWF World Tour events this year.
A lot has happened this year for Sindhu as she parted ways with Korea’s Park Tae-Sang, worked with SAI coach Vidhi Chaudhary before zeroing on new coach Muhammad Hafiz Hashim, the 2003 All-England champion.
With back-to-back tournaments lined up, there is hardly any time but the two-time Olympic medallist will still hope to find her best self with the help of Hashim and try out some of her tricks when she takes on compatriot Ashmita Chaliha in the opening round here.
The only time the two faced off in international circuit was at the 2022 India Open and Sindhu had come up trumps but they had also played at the 2019 Senior Nationals Championships in Guwahati and though Ashmita had lost then too, she had given a scare to the star Indian.
Srikanth too has not been able to weave a series of wins in a week. He showed glimpses of his hay days when he thrashed Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen with his trademark attacking game at Japan Open before losing to fellow Indian HS Prannoy.
The former world number one will have to curb his errors when he takes the court against Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto.
For India, Prannoy, Lakshya Sen and the world number 2 pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have been the most consistent performers this season.
With four titles, Satwik and Chirag have been the talk of the town but the duo has decided to skip the event to prepare for the World Championships (August 21 to 27).
Prannoy and Sen, on the other hand, have been the only other Indians to win titles this season and they have also been consistent, especially the former.
At world number 10, Prannoy is currently the best placed Indian singles player and has made three quarterfinals, besides claiming the Malaysia Masters super 500 title.
He had almost knocked out the world number one Viktor Axelsen in the semifinals in Japan before narrowly falling short in the decider. Same goes for Sen, who gave Indonesia’s world number 9 Jonatan Christie a run for his money last week.
This week, Prannoy is pitted against Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu, while Sen, who had won the Canada Open, will have to tame China’s Lu Guang Zu in their opening rounds.
Young Priyanshu Rajawat too has been impressive despite his losses as he gave a scare to his opponents — Indonesia’s world number 2 Anthony Ginting, Japan’s Kodai Naraoka and Sen in the last few tournaments since winning the Orleans Masters early this year.
The 21-year-old will begin his campaign against local player Nathan Tang.
Also in the fray is national champion Mithun Manjunath who will take on fourth seed Loh Kean Yew of Singapore in his opening round.
Among others, Aakarshi Kashyap will meet Goh Jin Wei of Malaysia, while Tasnim Mir faces Indonesia’s Komang Ayu Cahya Dewi and Malvika Bansod crosses swords with Pai Yu Po of Chinese Taipei.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand Pullela too will hope to go deep into the women’s doubles draw, especially since they have not crossed the second round in any tournament apart from the semifinal finish at the All England Championships.
Rohan Kapoor and N Sikki Reddy are in the fray in mixed doubles. PTI ATK APA APA
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