In the star-studded 2015 Thaihot China Open Badminton Tournament that begins on Wednesday November 11, there are five Indians playing in singles draw. Among men, Parupalli Kashyap will miss the action because he is down with a torn calf muscle but Kidambi Srikanth, Ajay Jayaram and HS Prannoy are raring to go. In women’s singles, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu will represent India. In other categories, only Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will present their challenge in women’s doubles. India’s men’s doubles team of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy have withdrawn at the last minute and there is no Indian entry in the mixed doubles. The $700,000 China Open Super Series Premier has attracted world’s top badminton talent and Srikanth and Saina are the defending champions. It may not be easy for them to hold their 2014 titles but both Saina and Srikanth will still look forward to doing their best, despite their recent loss of form. While Saina is seeded no.1, world champion Carolina Marin occupies the no.2 spot among women. China’s Chen Long is the top-seeded men and Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen is no.2. Among others in men’s singles, will be China’s no.5 seed Lin Dan and the Malaysian superstar Lee Chong Wei. In the women’s field, apart from Marin, there will be names like no.3 seeded Sing Ji Hyun, no.5 Wang Shixian, no.7 Wang Yihan and former world no.1 and 7th seeded Li Xuerui.
Indian stars Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth will begin their 2015 China Open campaign after some poor performances lately. Saina endured an abdominal injury that affected her performance in Super-series tournaments at Japan, Denmark and France. The 25-year old Indian ace also had problems with her heel but it seems she has recovered. Saina has been training hard at Bangalore under the watchful eyes of coach Vimal Kumar and looks in good shape. She knows that there are too many players in top ten and any one of them can unsettle her rhythm. The top-bracket has become too competitive and nothing but the best badminton can take Saina ahead. As for Srikanth, he has been losing in early rounds in recent tournaments and has now slipped to no.5 in world rankings. But the Indian star is still confident as he prepares for the China Super-series premier. In the first round, Srikanth is pitted against Hong Kong’s Hu Yun while Saina will take on China’s Sun Yu in the opener. Among other Indians, PV Sindhu has her opening round match against Russia’s Ksenia Polikarpova and if she crosses that hurdle, Sindhu will likely run into China’s no.5 seed Wang Shixian in the next round. In women’s doubles, the pair of Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa will meet Japanese duo Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao.
Other than the Indians, the China Open holds a lot of importance for Malaysia’s former world no.1 Lee Chong Wei, who has already progressed to world no.9 after a series of good performances since he began playing after the 8-month drug-related ban. Another former world no.1 Lin Dan would also be willing to enhance his world ranking from the current no.3. Among women, Spain’s Carolina Marin looks in great form and she would like to add another title against her name. Marin has had a great 2015, during which she won the All-England championship and several other tournaments. Ex-world no.1 Li Xuerui may have dropped to no.7 but the Chinese woman is still a force to reckon with. Two other Chinese women, Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan are serious contenders at the top and they will make their presence felt at the world stage ahead of next year’s Rio Olympic Games.
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