Australian Open Badminton – Sydney – 26-31 May
Sydney: Star Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal is all set to defend her women’s singles title when she takes to the court at the $750,000 Australian Open Superseries, which commences here on Tuesday.
World No.1 Saina has been seeded No.2. and had defeated Spaniard Carolina Marin — who later won the World Championships — to lift the trophy last year. This time she will open her campaign against a yet to be decided qualifier.
Tuesday will see qualifying action while the main competition will start on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, World No.11 P.V. Sindhu is unseeded and has a tough opening match against former World Champion Yihan Wang of China. Though the two-time World Championship bronze medallist has beaten her formidable opponent once, she had to bite the dust the other three times when the two Asians met.
Saina and Sindhu are in two different halves of the draw and a possible clash can only happen if both make it to the finals.
In men’s singles action, World No.4 Kidambi Srikanth has been seeded fourth and will start his campaign against Danish Hans-Kristian Vittinghus while compatriot and reigning Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap has also been given a tough opener against Chinese sixth seed Wang Zhengming in the draw of 32.
In men’s doubles, Pranaav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar will take on Cai Yun and Kang Jun while Commonwealth Games champions Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will face Dutch pair Samantha Barning and Iris Tabeling in women’s doubles.
Chopra and Ponnappa will join hands in the mixed doubles qualifiers, so will R.M.V. Gurusaidutt to try and find a spot in the men’s singles main draw.