PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth will look for consistency in their quest for the season’s maiden title when they begin their campaign at the Korea Open, which lost a bit of sheen following the withdrawal of some key players, including Lakshya Sen. A title has eluded Sindhu this year with more than half the season already over. She has not been able to string together a series of wins in a week after returning from a five-month long injury lay-off following a stress fracture on her ankle. The two-time Olympic medallist had reached the final of the Madrid Spain Masters, her best finish this season. She showed sparks when she reached the semifinals of Canada Open but made a quarterfinal exit in the next event after going down to China’s Gao Fang Jie in the US Open.
The world No. 12 Indian will have to quickly recover from the loss when she opens her campaign in the Super 500 tournament against Chinese Taipei’s Pai Yu Po. A favourable result is likely to pit her against China’s Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei.
With new coach Muhammad Hafiz Hashim, a former All England champion, also travelling with her this week, Sindhu will hope she finds her footing quickly in the Olympic qualification period which ends in April next year.
Srikanth, the 2021 World Championships silver medallist, too has blown hot and cold, reaching the quarterfinals at Spain Masters, Malaysia Masters and Indonesia Open.
The former world number one will hope to put up a good show this week when he opens against Japan’s Kento Momota after having trained with his new coach Wiempie Mahardi of Indonesia.
While titles eluded Sindhu and Srikanth, Lakshya Sen and HS Prannoy managed to claim Super 500 crowns at Canada and Malaysia this year.
But this week, Sen will be out of action as he pulled out of the tournament but fifth seed Prannoy would be hoping to hold on to his form when he opens against Belgium’s Julien Carraggi, who was promoted after the withdrawal of India’s Sameer Verma.
All eyes will also be on Indonesia Open champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty when they take the court against Thailand’s Supak Jomkoh and Kittinupong Kedren in the men’s doubles.
The third seeded Indian pair, who also claimed the Swiss Open Super 300 title, has been simply sensational this season and will be one of the favourites to clinch another title.
The men’s singles draw will also have Orleans Masters champion Priyanshu Rajawat, national champion Mithun Manjunath and 2022 Odisha Open winner Kiran George.
While Rajawat will face a qualifier, Mithun is pitted against Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong and Kiran will square off against Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei.
In the women’s singles, Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod will face uphill task against China’s Zhang Yi Man and Olympic silver medallist Tai Tzu Ying respectively.
Ashmita Chaliha, Tasnim Mir and Tanya Hemanth were also promoted to the main draw after a series of withdrawals in the women’s draw.
Among others, men’s doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala also pulled out of the event but MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila are in fray.
Arjun and Dhruv will face eighth seeded Chinese pair of Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand too will look for a good outing. The duo has been handed a walkover by their first-round opponents, Bulgarian sisters Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva.
The World number 18 pair will face second seeded Korean pair of Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee in the second round.
However, Tanisha Crasto and Ashwini Ponnappa, and Panda sisters — Rutaparna and Swetaparna — pulled out at the last moment.
N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini will also pair up with their respective partners Rohan Kapoor and B Sumeeth Reddy in the mixed doubles competition.
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