The last-minute withdrawal of three originally seeded ladies, all ranked between 23rd and 28th in the world, has left the field weakened in the $120,000 Yonex Syed Modi India Open Grand Prix badminton championship commencing at the Babu Banarsi Das Stadium here on Tuesday.
With Saina Nehwal heading the list of seeds in the absence of the Chinese, the World No. 4 is expected to end the year with a title and some valuable ranking points.
Saina, runner-up in the World Super Series Finals on Sunday, is scheduled to reach here with coach P. Gopi Chand on Tuesday after landing in New Delhi late on Monday.
Saina, drawn to play Chinese Taipie's Pai Hsiao Ma in the opening round, does not face any serious challenge on her way to the semifinals since World No. 23 Pi Hongyan (France), 25th-ranked Fu Mingtian (Singapore) and 28th-ranked Salakjit Ponsana (Thailand) have withdrawn.
These players were seeded sixth, seventh and eighth, in that order, before the draw was revised following the managers' meeting on Monday evening.
Also out of the draw are the two Indonesians – Lindaweni Fanetri and Adrianti Firdasari, ranked 39th and 40th in the world.
Like Saina, second-seeded Thai Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and fourth-seeded Japanese Eriko Hirose also have an easier passage to the last-four stage.
The men's draw is far less affected by the withdrawals of the World No. 47 Darren Liew, the Malaysian originally seeded 15, and his teammate Abdul Latif. Slovakia's Michal Matejka and Israel's Misha Zilberman are the other two late pullouts.
Santoso heads seedings
World No. 8 Simon Santoso heads the seeding list followed by his more illustrated and accomplished Indonesian teammate, second seed and former World and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, ranked 11th. Denmark's Vittinghus Hans-Kristian, ranked 19th in the world, is seeded third, one ahead of the World No. 18, Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto.
In fact, with five out of the top eight seeds from Indonesia, it will indeed be difficult to visualise the men's singles title going to a player from any other nation.
P. Kashyap, who continues to promise without performing at the level once expected, is seeded 10th, one behind teammate Ajay Jayaram.
Fourteenth seed R.M.V. Gurusaidutt is drawn to meet Hidayat in the pre-quarterfinals.
In the women's doubles, World bronze medallists G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa, ranked 14th in the world, are seeded third.
The pair, backed by a vociferous crowd here, can produce some exciting results this week.
In the mixed doubles, Jwala and V. Diju are seeded fourth behind two pairs from Thailand and one from Malaysia.
Chance for Jwala-Diju
Currently ranked 19th in the world, Jwala and Diju can use the opportunity to get some much-needed confidence going into the Olympic year.
The qualifying rounds will be played on Tuesday and the main draw action is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Indians are expected to occupy the majority of eight qualifying spots in the men's singles and four each in the women's singles and men's doubles.