After a brief hiatus, Indian badminton stars will return to top-flight international action with the Denmark Open starting Tuesday. Top-ranked players Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will be back on court this week. However, PV Sindhu, who sustained an injury at the Commonwealth Games in July, will be missing.
The Denmark Open will be the first big event for top badminton players after the BWF World Championships in August. Some Indians players have competed at the National Games in India and the Vietnam Open, a Super 100 last month, but this event will restart the BWF calendar at the highest level.
Here's a look at the Indians in action, their draws and chances in Odense.
Kidambi Srikanth vs Angus Ng Ka Long
Lakshya Sen vs Anthony Sinisuka Ginting
HS Prannoy vs Zhao Jun Peng
In all honestly, this is a very tough draw for the Indian men's singles contingent. Not a single Indian is seeded and that means challenging first-round matches. But given their form this season, no member of the Thomas Cup-winning side can be counted out.
Lakshya, who recently reached a career high ranking of world No 8, opens his campaign against sixth seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. He holds a 2-0 head-to-head advantage against Ginting, having beaten him twice this year - at the German Open and the Thomas Cup final.
If he wins, he will be up against compatriot Prannoy (again!). They have a split 2-2 record, with all four matches coming this year. Prannoy was 0-2 down but he has Lakshya in the last two meetings, including the big-ticket Indonesia Open and World Championships.
But first, Prannoy has to cross the Zhao Jun Peng hurdle (again!). Peng has a 2-0 advantage and has beaten Prannoy at the Indonesia Open semi-final and World Championships quarter-final this year (you see the pattern?). Now, Prannoy has to contend with him in his opener. Third time's the charm?
Meanwhile, former world No 1 Kidambi Srikanth will take on Angus Ng Ka Long. They have a 3-3 record but Srikanth has been erratic at best this season, despite some big wins. If he wins, he faces a potential clash with seventh seed Loh Kean Yew and they are in the same quarter as top seed and home favourite Viktor Axelsen. (Side note: the world No 1 opens his campaign against Kunlavut Vitidsarn in a rematch of the World Championship final, talk about a loaded draw for non-seeds!).
#DenmarkOpen2022 ���� almost there! ��
- BWF (@bwfmedia) October 17, 2022
Saina Nehwal vs Zhang Yi Man
In PV Sindhu's absence, Saina Nehwal in the sole Indian in women's singles. She opens against China's Zhang Yi Man, who has beaten her the one time they played back in 2016. If Saina wins her openers, she potentially faces fifth seed Ratchanok Intanon, who starts against Kirsty Gilmour. While Saina has a 12-7 record, their recent forms and trajectory suggest that H2H is not exactly indicative.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty vs Kang Min Hyuk/Seo Seung Jae
Recent World Championship bronze medallists Satwik-Chirag start against South Koreans Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae. While the seventh-seeded Indians are much higher ranked, they had lost to them at the Korea Open in April to level their H2H at 1-1.
Satwik-Chirag's potential second round match is against All England champions Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana of Indonesia, whom they had beaten earlier this year in their first meeting. Their potential quarterfinal opponents are their nemesis and fourth seeds, Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik.
Treesa Jolly/Gayathri Gopichand vs Alexandra Boje/Amalie Magelund
Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Treesa Jolly and Gayathri Gopichand open against locals Alexandra Boje and Amalie Magelund. This is their first meeting. If they win, they could face sixth seeds Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai in the second round.
Tanisha Crasto/Ishaan Bhatnagar vs Pitha Haningtyas Mentari/Rinov Rivaldy
India's Tanisha Crasto and Ishaan Bhatnagar start against Indonesia's Pitha Haningtyas Mentari and Rinov Rivaldy, in what is their first meeting. If they win, they will face a mountain of a challenge against second seeds and World Championship finalists Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.