It has been a tough year for the Indian badminton stars. Apart from the Commonwealth Games triumph, none of the top Indian shuttlers has been able to win BWF event title this year. Now the BWF World Championship is around the corner and the draws for the event starting from 30th July in Nanjing, China has been released.
The Indian top shuttlers, without doubt, have received tough draws in the tough year for the Indian badminton. Both PV Sindhu and CWG Champion Saina Nehwal have received first-round byes but the road ahead will not be easy for the leading ladies of the Indian badminton.
Sindhu meets Sung Ji Hyun in last 16 & Okuhara in Quarters
Following the first round bye, Sindhu will flag off her campaign against World No. 37 Indonesian, Fitriani Fitriani or World No. 44 Linda Zetchiri. The first real challenge for the third-seeded Sindhu will be in the third round where she is expected to meet Sung Ji Hyun. The Indian has a 7-5 head-to-head record against the World No. 9 who beat her the last time they met at the Badminton Asia Championships in May.
If she manages to get past the South Korean star, defending champion Nozomi Okuhara lurks in the quarters in what will be a rematch of last year’s epic final. Okuhara and Sindhu have shared a healthy rivalry over the years, with the Japanese shuttler trailing 5-6 in the head-to-head stats. However, Okuhara did beat Sindhu in straight sets in Sunday’s Thailand Open final.
Saina draws Ratchanok Intanon in Pre-Quarters
Starting off with a bye, Saina is slated to meet Sabrina Jaquet or Aliye Demirbag in the second round. The real test for Saina starts in Last 16 battle against former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon. The 28-year-old does have a 9-5 head-to-head record over the Thai star, who has not been at the top of her game. World number 10 Sania, even won the last fixture at the Indonesia Masters between the two players in January.
A win against Intanon in the third round could pit Saina against Olympic champion Carolina Marin. In the semis, it will be Saina’s nemesis and World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying.
Srikanth probable to face Lee Chong Wei in last 8
Over to the men’s draw, World No. 5 Kidambi Srikanth could meet Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lee Chong Wei in the quarters. HS Prannoy should sail to the pre-quarters while Sai Praneeth has been handed a pretty difficult draw.
Srikanth, who starts off against Irish youngster Nhat Nguyen, should not have any trouble in reaching the pre-quarters. His first real challenge should be the 13th-seeded Jonatan Christie in this round, provided they both make it thus far. If the 25-year-old Indian can progress to the quarters, a stiffer challenge in the form of World No. 2 Lee Chong could await him.
Srikanth has managed to beat the Malaysian star just once in his career, during the mixed team final at the Commonwealth Games. Should he manage to repeat that feat, he could be pitted against World No. 4 Son Wan Ho in the semis.
Son Wan Ho, though, will have another Indian, Sai Praneeth, to worry about in the opening round. Given that he has never been able to beat the Korean star in four attempts, it will be extremely difficult for Praneeth to make it to the second round.
Prannoy starts off his campaign against Indo-New Zealand shuttler Abhinav Manota. He could meet Wong Wing Ki Vincent in the second round, before meeting World No. 7 Chou Tien Chen in the pre-quarters. If the 11th seeded Indian manages to progress to the quarters, he could meet Chinese legend Lin Dan.