India Open 2018, the lucrative USD 350,000 BWF Badminton tournament organized in Delhi begins today. All the top Indian badminton players, including Saina Nehwal, who is fresh from a Silver medal win at the Indonesia Masters and champion of 2017 edition PV Sindhu will play their matches today.
Along with the Badminton queens of India, the marquee event will also feature 2014 champion and India’s top shuttler Kidambi Srikanth. He will begin the new season with India Open 2018 after missing the Indonesia Masters.
India Open 2018 – Saina Nehwal is the favourite to win the title
Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, who previously won the India Open Super Series in 2015, has made a great start to the new season. She reached the finals of Indonesia Masters after recovering from an ankle injury. Though she lost the finals to world no 1 Tai Tzu Ying in straight sets, she is still one of the favourites to win the India Open 2018.
This was Saina Nehwal’s first major final appearance, since she got injured and ousted from the 2016 Rio Olympics. 2017 also, was not a great year for the former world number one. She found it difficult to consistently cross the second round of many tournaments due to her poor fitness level.
However, her physio and coach are now convinced that Saina is back in form and fitness. It was displayed at the recently concluded Premier Badminton League season 3 and the Indonesia Masters. She will hope to keep that intensity going when she plays her second successive tournament of 2018, at Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi.
Placed in the bottom half, fourth seed Saina Nehwal will face Denmark’s Sofie Dahl in the opening round and fifth seed Beiwen Zhang will be her likely opponent in the quarterfinals.
India Open 2018 – Can Sindhu Defend her title?
Unlike Nehwal, PV Sindhu is going great guns ever since her historic silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics. 2017 was a roller-coaster for the lanky Indian shuttler as she clinched three championships and three silvers last season. For her performances, she is the top seeded player of India Open 2018.
The World Championship silver medallist will start her campaign against Denmark’s Natalia Rohde. If she does make it to the next round, her real test will come in the form of former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in the semi-finals.
Interestingly, it was compatriot Saina Nehwal who cut short PV Sindhu’s campaign at the Indonesia Masters in Jakarta, in the quarterfinals. There is a realistic possibility that both these Badminton queens of India can once again meet in the finals of India Open 2018.
India Open 2018 – All eyes on Kidambi Srikanth and his Fitness
In men’s singles event, all eyes are on India’s best Badminton player Kidambi Srikanth. He exceeded all expectations with four titles and a runners-up finish in 2017. However, a leg injury during the Senior National Badminton Championships in Nagpur affected his game-play. Due to this he had to sit out of the China Open and Hong Open last season.
Returning back from injury at the Dubai Super Series Final, lack of match practice affected his performance. Srikanth lost all his three matches in the group stage and was knocked out of the tournament.
In fact, Srikanth’s stint at the Premier Badminton League season 3 also didn’t turn out well. He once again lost all three matches that forced his franchisee Awadhe Warriors crash out of the league. Srikanth who is the current world no 3, also had to delay his start of the 2018 season after a minor injury forced him to pull out of the Indonesia Masters at the last moment.
Kidambi Srikanth shared the podium alongside Saina Nehwal as the winner of Indian Open 2014. But his last campaign at the India Open ended in disaster. He failed to cross the opening round after being outclassed by world no 1 Viktor Axelsen in straight sets.
But, India’s number one Badminton player is not new to an injury prone situation. He has proved it last year when he recovered from similar injury to make 2017, the most memorable year of his relatively short career.
Kidambi, who is second seeded at the India Open 2018, will begin his campaign against Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu. And if he can live upto the expectations, there is every possibility of a face-off with top seed and defending champion Axelsen in the final.
India Open 2018 – Can HS Prannoy and Co. put up a good show?
World number 10 HS Prannoy had a dream run in 2017 season. The young Indian Badminton player reached the semi-finals at Indonesia and French Open. He won the prestigious US Open Grand Prix Gold and was also the champion at the Senior Nationals.
The Indian shuttler became the costliest player at the recently concluded Premier Badminton League season 3, and had a decent outing as well. He will look to start the new season on a positive note when he faces a qualifier in his opening match at the India Open 2018.
Among the other Indian badminton players, Singapore Open champion B Sai Praneeth will face Rajiv Ouseph of England in the opening round. Commonwealth Games’ gold medallist Parupalli Kashyap will begin his campaign against Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark. Ajay Jayaram is pitted against Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto in opening round of the India Open 2018.
In the men’s doubles, Indonesia Masters semi-finalist Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will clash against Hong Kong’s Chang Tak Ching and Hee Chun Mak. National champions B Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Atri are up against sixth seeds Ong Yew Sing and Teo Ee Yi of Malaysia.
From all of us at KreedOn we wish the men and women contingent all the best. Keep the India Open 2018 trophy in India.