Avenging her All England loss to Spain’s Carolina Marin and clinching the World No. 1 status will be on her mind when ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal leads the home challenge in the Yonex Sunrise India Open Super Series which gets underway with the qualifiers tomorrow.
For years, Saina has been hoping to become the first Indian woman shuttler to reach the numero uno status and that dream will be within touching distance when the top seed opens her campaign at the USD 275,000 event against a qualifier on Wednesday.
However, it will be second seed Carolina, the reigning world champion, who will stand in her way, trying to become the first Spaniard to achieve the feat.
Among the men, new sensation Kidambi Srikanth, who clinched the Swiss Grand Prix Gold earlier this month, will also be the cynosure of all eyes as he starts as the second seed behind Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen.
The 22-year-old from Guntur rose to World No. 4 on the back of some sensational performances, including winning the China Open crown last year beating two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan and he would look to carry on with his good form when he walks out at the Siri Fort Complex this week.
Srikanth will open his campaign with a clash against Thai Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, ranked world No. 19. The Indian has a 1-1 record against Saensomboonsuk, having beaten him in their last encounter at the 2014 Hong Kong Open.
“I have been trying hard and was lucky too. I think having good 6-7 Indian players has helped me to grow. But it was beating Lin Dan in his own country that boosted my confidence a lot. I won the Swiss Open and I hope to continue the good run here,” Srikanth said.
Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, who clinched the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in January, will also be a top contender for the title, looking to get back his rhythm after recovering from a string of injuries.
A fit-again Kashyap, ranked 13th, will face Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao. The Indian had beaten him in the 2013 All England Championship but lost to the same opponent in Badminton Asia Championships last year.