A week after the BWF World Championship in Copenhagen, top-flight badminton continues with the China Open – the season’s final Super 1000 tournament – starting Tuesday.
The tournament is marking a return to the regular calendar after not being held since 2020 due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions.
From an Indian perspective, it’s one of the final tournaments before the Asian Games to be held later this month. PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth withdrew from the competition on Monday, and there will be no Indian competing in the women’s singles. Both Sindhu and Srikanth are part of India’s Asiad squad.
At the previous Super 1000 tournament in Indonesia, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty became the first Indians to win a title at the highest level of the BWF World Tour (barring the Worlds) and they will hope to find that touch again after missing out on a medal at the Worlds.
Here’s a look at Indians’ draw and chances at the 2023 China Open:
There are three Indians in the draw but none of them are seeded.
All eyes will be on the in-form HS Prannoy, who won his first World Championship medal in his last competition with a stunning win over world No 1 Viktor Axelsen.
The new world No 6 starts his campaign against Malayisa’s Ng Tze Yong in what will be their first meeting. There is only one other seed in his section – fifth seed Jonatan Christie – after the withdrawal of recently crowned world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn, giving him a good chance at a deep run
First though, he has a possible all-Indian clash in the second round. Upcoming Indian Priyanshu Rajawat got a stroke of luck as he will now play reserve Shesar Hiren Rhustavito in the first round, instead of the third seed. Wins for both would pit Prannoy and Priyasnhu against each other for a place in the quarters.
Lakshya Sen, in the same quarter as Axelsen, starts off against another Dane – Anders Antonsen. The two have a split H2H of 1-1 but Antonsen is the in-form player having won a bronze at the Worlds. A win will pit him against seventh seed Loh Kean Yew, who Sen leads 5-3.
If Lakshya and Prannoy both reach and win their respective quarterfinal, we could have a repeat of the match-up that seemed to happen every other week a few months back.
With PV Sindhu’s withdrawal, there will be no Indian in this section.
Satwik and Chirag are second seeds and will be raring to go after missing out at what turned out to be a very open men’s doubles field at the Worlds. However, they are placed in a tricky quarter.
The Indians start against last year’s All England champions Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana of Indonesia, who they lead 3-1 but lost to the last time they played at the Thailand Open in June.
Also in their section are ‘Daddies’ Hendra Setiawan & Mohammad Ahsan and reigning world champions Kang Min-hyuk and Seo Seung-jae, seeded sixth and coming in great form. (Seo won both the men’s and mixed doubles gold medals at Worlds, on the same day).
However, Satwik and Chirag are capable enough to see off these threats and make a good run in China, may be even going for the world No 1 ranking which is within their grasp.
The other Indian pair in action is MS Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, who start against Keiichiro Matsui and Yoshinori Takeuchi, a Japanese pair they have beaten in their only encounter before. A win will pit them against fifth seeds and former world champions Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi.
Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand are the only Indians in the women’s doubles draw and have drawn the shortest stick there is.
The Indians start against Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan, the Chinese top seeds who just won their third straight world title. They played in the third round of the Worlds a week back and the Indians lost 14-21, 9-21.
Sikki Reddy and Rohan Kapoor are the only Indian pair in mixed doubles and they start off against Chen Tang Jie and Toh Ee Wei of Malaysia (H2H 0-0). A win will likely pit them against sixth seeds Kim Won Ho and Jeong Na Eun.