Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu will look to break the jinx of losing major finals and better the colour of her medal when she spearheads the Indian challenge at the prestigious World Championship, starting in Nanjing on Monday.
With two bronze medals in 2013 and 2014 and a silver last year, Sindhu has an impressive record at the World Championship.
Her epic final against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara at Glasgow last year went down as one of the greatest matches of all time, clocking 110 minutes. The Indian will hope her love affair continues at Nanjing.
The 23-year-old from Hyderabad has been very consistent with six final appearance last year, out of which she won India Open, Korea Open and Syed Modi International but she lost the finals at Worlds, Dubai Super Series and Hong Kong.
This season too Sindhu entered summit clashes at India Open, Commonwealth Games and the Thailand Open but a title has eluded her and she would like to improve her win-loss statistic in major finals.
The Indian is likely to meet Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in the third round, crossing which will probably put her face-to-face with defending champion and familiar foe Nozomi Okuhara in the quarterfinals.
“I really want to do well in the World Championship. I have been preparing well. It is going to be a tough draw in the world championship, so I can’t relax,” said Sindhu, who will play Fitriani in my first game.
“I know everyone is talking about Nozomi and my match but before that there is Sung Ji Hyun, who is not an easy player. So that round would be equally important.”
Two-time Commonwealth Games champion Saina Nehwal also bagged a silver and a bronze in 2015 and 2017 respectively and she would hope to shrug off her indifferent recent form and go full throttle, looking for a medal.
The 28-year-old, who opens her campaign against either Swiss Sabrina Jaquet or Turkish Aliye Demirbag, will have to battle past 2013 champion Ratchanok Inthanon of Thailand and Olympic champion Carolina Marin in likely third round and quarterfinal matches respectively.
In the men’s singles, Kidambi Srikanth, who clinched four titles last season and a silver at the Commonwealth Games this year, will too look to realise his long-term dream of winning a medal when he opens against Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen. He is likely to meet Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie, 13th seed, in round 3.
With three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia pulling out due to poor health, Srikanth will fancy his chances of going further deep in the draw and win a medal.
HS Prannoy, who had a topsy-turvy season plagued by multiple injuries, will begin his campaign with a clash against Australia’s Abhinav Manota and two tricky opponents in Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent and Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen might stand in his way to the quarterfinals, where he is expected to meet the All England champion Shi Yuqi.
“I think I have a good draw. In an event like the World Championship you can’t expect things to be easy. So I have to be on my toes right from the start,” he said.
Among others, B Sai Praneeth has been in poor form this season but the Indian has been given a walkover even before stepping on the court after formidable Korean Son Wan Ho pulled out. He will now face Spain’s Luis Enrique Penalver in his first match.
Sameer Verma too will have to bring his ‘A’ game to the fore when he opens his campaign against France’s Lucas Corvee in the opening round.
In the men’s doubles, CWG silver medallists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty face Olympic bronze medallists Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge of England.
CWG bronze medallists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will square off against Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Kai Hsin and Hung Shih Han in women’s doubles.
Ashwini and Sikki will also pair up with Satwik and Pranaav Jerry Chopra for the mixed doubles event.
Among other Indians in action are National champions men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, Russian Open runners-ups Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg, and Saurabh Sharma and Anoushka Parikh.
The young pair of Arjun MR and Ramchandran Shlok, and Tarun Kona and Saurabh Sharma will also compete in the men’s doubles competition.
Also in action will be Kuhoo Garg and Ningshi Block Hazarika, Jakkampudi Meghana and S Ram Poorvisha, and Sanyogita Ghorpade and Prajakta Sawant in the women’s doubles.