Saina Nehwal, who had won the Indonesia Masters this year, will also look to put up a good show following her recovery from injuries
World champion P.V. Sindhu will look to reassert her supremacy when she spearheads the Indian campaign at the $1 million China Open World Tour Super 1000 tournament beginning here on Tuesday.
The World No. 5 Sindhu ended India’s long wait for a World championship gold at Basel last month.
She achieved the historic feat after her third successive final appearance. The performance also turned around her erratic season during which she had reached the final at the Indonesia Open Super 1000 event.
Life after that historic gold has been all about felicitations and the Indian will now have to quickly turn her focus back on badminton as she remains the country’s best bet at the China Open, a title she had won in 2016.
The 24-year-old from Hyderabad will begin her campaign against China’s Li Xuerui, a former Olympic gold medallist and World No. 1. Interestingly, Sindhu had announced her arrival on the international scene when she had stunned the then Olympic champion Li at the China Masters in 2012.
Since then, Sindhu has reached the highest echelons of international badminton, while Li has been dealing with a career-threatening knee injury that she suffered at the Rio Olympics.
The Chinese is currently ranked 20th but has a 3-3 record against Sindhu.
World No. 8 Saina Nehwal, who had won the Indonesia Masters this year, will also look to put up a good show following her recovery from injuries which bogged her down this season.
Saina will face Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the opening round and is expected to clash with former World No. 1 and her nemesis Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals.
No Srikanth, Prannoy
China Open, the last Super 1000 event of the World Tour season, will also see the return of two superstars — Olympic champion and three-time World champion Carolina Marin and 2017 World Champion Viktor Axelsen. Both the bigwigs will be back after recovering from injuries.
The Indian campaign has lost a bit of sheen with the withdrawal of K. Srikanth and H.S. Prannoy.
While Srikanth’s knee injury flared up during the World championships, Prannoy is down with dengue.
All eyes will be on B. Sai Praneeth, who ended India’s 36-year wait to become the first Indian male shuttler to claim a medal at the World Championships.
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