All England Open Badminton Championships: Tough draw for Saina, Kidambi Srikanth
HYDERABAD: A tough draw at the All England Open Badminton Championships has complicated things for Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth in their race to Tokyo. The Indian shuttlers, who will be breaking sweat to defend 6600 points they had earned last year, have a tricky first round to clear. While unseeded Saina faces third seed, Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, in the women's singles first round, Srikanth begins against Olympic champion Chen Long of China. A tough draw at the All England Open Badminton Championships has complicated things for Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth in their race to Tokyo. The Indian shuttlers, who will be breaking sweat to defend 6600 points they had earned last year, have a tricky first round to clear.
The 110th edition of the prestigious badminton tournament has had to weather a huge storm in the form of the coronavirus, which forced cancellation of several international tournaments. But the organisers have decided to go ahead with the tournament which kicks off at the Arena Birmingham on Wednesday.
It has proved to be a great relief for the Indian players as they are struggling to push their rankings higher. Both Saina and Srikanth have a daunting task of improving their ranking by the end of April to qualify for Olympics.
In the race to Tokyo rankings, Saina is at 22 while Srikanth is placed at 21. To make the cut both have to come within the top-16 rankings by April end. Saina has a better chance than Srikanth when it comes to Olympic qualification.
Even if she doesn't get any points from All England, Saina can secure a lot of points from the India Open later this month as she got an easy draw at that event. However, Srikanth cannot afford such a luxury as he reached the finals of India Open last year and has to defend 7800 points.
Coming back to the All England draw, Yamaguchi has been inconsistent of late. She is winning against top players but has suffered shocking losses against lower-ranked players. If Saina gets past Yamaguchi she may face another Japanese girl Sayaka Takahashi in the second round. In the quarters she may run into Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain.
World champion PV Sindhu begins against Beiwen Zhang of USA and is expected to reach the quarterfinals where she may meet Nozomi Okuhara of Japan. If Sindhu beats Okuhara she may play Chen Yu Fei. The Chinese shuttler is in top form but Sindhu is determined to make a serious bid for All England title.
On the other hand, Srikanth has a tough draw as getting past Chen Long is not an easy task. The other Indian in men's singles Sai Praneeth may face Shi Yu Qui of China in the second round. Teen shuttler Lakshya Sen squares up against Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong.
Seven Indians - HS Prannoy, Sameer Verma, Sourabh Verma, Satwik, Chirag, Manu Attri, Sumeeth Reddy - pulled out from the event due to corona fears. Agencies
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