For the first time, the creamy layer of world badminton will be on view in the Capital when the $250,000 Yonex Sunrise India Open badminton tournament takes place at the Siri Fort Indoor Complex here on April 1.

World number one and defending champion Lee Chong Wei is back but unprecedented is the presence of the leading Chinese players in the game. In short, eight of the top nine world-ranked men and all eight leading ladies are part of the draw.

Top seed and Olympic champion Li Xuerui, reinging Asian Games and All England champion Wang Shixian and former World champion and World number one Wang Yihan are part of the field.

Tough challenges

In this rare World-class field assembled in the country, the home hopes — Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu face tough challenges to make it to the podium. In the same half of the draw, eighth seed Nehwal and ninth seed Sindhu have opponents of contrasting strengths in the opening round. Saina faces an easy opener against Austria’s Simone Prutsch while Sindhu takes on second seed Wang Shixian, whom she has beaten in all three encounters in the past year.

For the unseeded Indian men, it will be very difficult to get into the quarterfinals.

One of the main reasons for such a good response to this year’s edition is that most top players wanted to get acclimatised to the venue that hosts Thomas Cup and Uber Cup World team championships next month. Secondly, the prize-money has been enhanced by $50,000 and finally, the players head for the $300,000 Singapore Open Super Series next week.

Sindhu, present at the announcement of the premier event here on Saturday, said “I will play with the same confidence with which I beat Wang Shixian in the past.”

P. Kashyap, troubled by a recurring shoulder injury that has clearly dented his confidence in the past year, sounded relaxed, looking ahead to his clash against sixth seed Wang Zhengming. “My fitness is about seven on a scale of 10. I am feeling good about my game.”

Earlier, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) President Akhilesh Das Gupta announced the event and put on display the well-crafted trophies for the winners.

The seedings: Men singles: Lee Chong Wei (Mas), 2. Chen Long (Chn), Kenichi Tago (Jpn), Jan Jorgensen (Den), 5. Boonsak Ponsana (Tha), 6. Wang Zhengming (Chn), 7. Du Pengyu (Chn), 8. Son Wan Ho (Kor). Women singles: Li Xuerui (Chn), 2. Wang Shixian (Chn), 3. Wang Yihan (Chn), 4. Ratchanok Intanon (Tha), 5. Bae Yeon Ju (Kor), 6. Sung Ji Hyun (Kor), 7. Tai Tzu Ying (Tpe), 8. Saina Nehwal (Ind).

Keywords: India OpenSaina

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