November 30, 2021 10:31:21 am
PV Sindhu will look to ensure that her consistent run yields a title, while all eyes will also be on the fast-rising Lakshya Sen and the men’s doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty as they make their debut at the BWF World Tour Finals beginning here on Wednesday.
It will be the best ever representation for India at the year-end tournament with as many as seven of them qualifying for the $1,50,000 event.
Save for mixed doubles, the Indians compete in all other categories with Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy, who made the cut after the completion of the Indonesia Open last week, set to represent the country in the women’s doubles event.
The only Indian to win the prestigious title in 2018, reigning world champion Sindhu was a finalist at the event the year before and she will look for another good outing when she opens her campaign against top seed Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand in group A.
Sindhu, a two-time Olympic medallist, has been consistent with three semifinal finishes in the last three events and is likely to make it to the knockout stage.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad is expected to finish among the top two in the group as she has a good record against the other two opponents — Denmark’s Line Christophersen and Germany’s Yvonne Li.
Srikanth, only the fourth player ever to win four Super Series titles in a year, has looked in good touch in the last few events with semifinal finishes at Indonesia Masters and Hylo Open.
The former world No.1 had reached the knockout stage of the year-ending event in 2014 and he will look to relive those moments when he begins his campaign against Malaysia’s second seed Lee Zii Jia in group B which also comprises France’s Toma Junior Popov and Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand.
Debutants Lakshya and Satwik-Chirag have been clubbed in the ‘group of death’ and it will be extremely tough for them to qualify for the next stage.
Lakshya, who had won five titles in 2019, has been clubbed in Group A with top seed and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen, two-time world champion Kento Momota of Japan and Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke.
The 20-year-old from Almora, who had reached the finals of Dutch Open and achieved semifinal results at the Denmark Masters and Hylo Open, will open against Rasmus.
World No.11 Satwik and Chirag will face top seeded Indonesians Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, world No.3 Chinese Taipei’s Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin and world No.10 Denmark’s Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in group A.
In women’s doubles, Ashwini and Sikki will have to compete with Japan’s second seeds Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida, Bulgaria’s Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva, and Chloe Birch and lauren Smith of England for a place in the knockout stage.
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