With the Paris Olympic qualification at stake, top Indian shuttlers, including HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen, will hope to begin the new season on a bright note when they start their campaign at the Malaysia Open Super 1000 badminton tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. A lot will be on the line for Indian shuttlers in the next four months as they zoom through a hectic calendar, hoping to get inside the world’s top-16 by April end to book their berths for the Paris Games.
Frontrunner in the Olympic race, world no. 8 Prannoy, had a sensational season with maiden bronze medals at the World Championships and the Asian Games and a title-run at the Malaysia Masters super 500. He also registered a final finish at the Australia Open super 500.
The 31-year-old, seeded 8th, will hope to continue his rich vein of form when he opens against Denmark’s Anders Antonsen, who made a successful comeback from an injury by winning the Korea Open in 2023.
All eyes will also be on Lakshya and Kidambi Srikanth as they fight to get inside the top 16 after enduring contrasting fates last season.
While world no. 16 Sen claimed the Canada Open super 500 before losing his form in the back end, Srikanth, ranked 24, has looked subdued and had just four quarterfinals finishes to show in 2023.
Things are not going to be easy for Sen and Srikanth as they face tough competitors in China’s Weng Hong Yang and sixth seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia respectively in the opening round here.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have looked in ominous form in the men’s doubles arena. They went on a record-breaking spree to emerge as the best-performing Indian shuttlers in 2023.
In a span of 12 months, they won an Asian Games gold, a super 1000 crown in Indonesia, the Korea Open super 500 and the Swiss Open super 300 before grabbing a a career-best ranking of World No.1, albeit for a brief time.
The second-seeded pair, which reached the semifinals in 2023, will look to continue the good run and go deep in the draw when they open against the Indonesian combination of Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana.
Brimming with confidence after making three finals in December, the women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto will now look to make the right moves this season to crack the global top 16.
The duo is currently placed 21st in the Olympic Games Qualification rankings, ahead of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, who are at the 27th spot.
Ashwini and Tanisha, who claimed the Guwahati Masters super 100 title, will face USA’s Francesca Corbett and Allison Lee in the opening round.
With two-time Olympic medallist P V Sindhu recovering from a knee injury, India will have no representation in women’s singles. There are also no Indians competing in mixed doubles.
Malaysia Open is one of the four BWF World Tour Super 1000 tournaments, having gained the status last year. All England Championships, China Open and Indonesian Open are the other three in the world circuit.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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