Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap will miss the Japan Open badminton championships due to injuries and in their absence, P.V. Sindhu will spearhead the Indian challenge at the $200,000 Super Series tournament starting here on Tuesday.
Tired after the IBL, Saina decided to take rest while Kashyap was forced to pull out at the last moment as he could not recover from an ankle injury suffered during the IBL.
“I’m not playing the Japan Open as I could not recover from the ankle injury I had suffered during the IBL,” Kashyap said.
All eyes will now be on world No.10 Sindhu, who will be playing her first international tournament after winning the bronze at the World Championships.
Sindhu, seeded eighth, will take on two qualifiers in the first two rounds and is likely to make it to the last eight stage without much ado.
In the quarterfinals, the 18-year-old, in all probability, would face world No.1 and Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China.
A year ago, Sindhu had defeated the Chinese during the 2012 China Masters in Changzhou but Xuerui will always prove to be a very tough customer to get across, considering her exploits at the world stage.
Tanvi Lad, ranked No. 77 in the world, is the other Indian in fray in the women’s singles. The Mumbai player will take on Japanese World No. 20 Sayaka Takahashi in the first round.
Meanwhile, there will be six Indians in fray in the men’s singles competition. In the absence of Kashyap, world No.23 Ajay Jayaram will lead the charge, taking on Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei in the first round, while B. Sai Praneeth will be up against eight seed Hu Yun of Hong Kong.
Sourabh Varma will clash with a qualifier. The other three Indians who have been promoted from the qualifiers are Anand Pawar, H.S. Prannoy and K. Srikanth.
Srikanth, who won the gold at the Thailand Grand Prix and was in rollicking form in the IBL, will play Sho Sasaki of Japan, Prannoy will face Wing Ki Wong of Hong Kong and Pawar will take on Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia in the first round.
In men’s doubles, the Indian pair of B. Sumeet Reddy and Manu Attri will fight it out against the local duo of Hiroyuki Saeki and Ryota Taohata in the first round.