India’s PV Sindhu will hope to start the new year on a positive note when she begins her campaign at the Malaysia Masters Super 500 tournament, starting here from Tuesday.
World number six Sindhu had a dream run at the World Championships in Basel, Switzerland, winning the title last year, but she made early exits in the rest of the season, including her failure to defend the World Tour Finals crown in December.
With the Olympics less than seven months away, Sindhu will look to iron out the flaws and hit the right note when she begins her women’s singles campaign at the USD 400,000 event.
Sixth seed Sindhu will have an easy opponent in Russia’s Evgeniya Kosetskaya in the first round and the Indian will look to stay on course for an expected clash with world number 1 Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying in the quarterfinals.
The other Indian women’s singles player, Saina Nehwal, who claimed the Indonesia Masters last year before slumping to a series of early exits in the rest of the year, will open against a qualifier at the Axiata Arena.
Kidambi Srikanth, who pulled out of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) to be in best shape in the Olympic year, will start the new year with a clash against second seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei.
B Sai Praneeth, who ended as the best-placed Indian men’s singles player in the BWF ranking, will open against Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke, while Sameer Verma, having endured a difficult 2019, will square off against Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen in the first round.
Former world number six Parupalli Kashyap, who showed some sparks of his earlier self last year, will face top seed and world number one Kento Momota of Japan in the first round, while H S Prannoy, who was down with health issues for most part of last season, will meet Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who became the first Indian men’s pair to claim a super 500 title at Thailand Open and also reached the finals of the French Open Super 750 event, will open against local shuttlers Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi.
Ashwini Ponnappa, having withdrawn from the Syed Modi International last November due to an injury, recovered in time and will pair up with her women’s doubles partner N Sikki Reddy, to take on Korea’s Chang Ye Na and Kim Hye Rin.
However, Ashwini and Sikki will have a tough task at hand in mixed doubles.
While Ashwini and Satwik will face second seeded Chinese pair of Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping, world number one Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong will stand in the way of Sikki and Pranaav Jerry Chopra in the opening round.