With no Chinese players participating, India’s ace shuttler Saina Nehwal will start as clear favourite in the Indian Open Super Series badminton tournament, feels National coach Pullela Gopichand.
India will host its first ever India Open Super Series tournament at the Siri Fort Indoor complex from April 26 to May 1, featuring 220 players from 16 countries but China decided to skip the event.
“She will start as the top seed and also as a clear favourite. She is fit and is high on confidence after the Swiss Open title and hopefully will have a good tournament,” said Gopichand, who was here in the capital to launch the Indian Open series.
“Her ligament injury is completely cured and the bandage she is wearing is just for her own precaution. The physio has said she doesn’t need to but she feels comfortable wearing the straps, so it is not a problem,” he added.
In the men’s singles, World Number One Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, Indonesian Taufik Hiddayat and former World Champion Peter Gade will form a formidable field but Gopichand hopes apart from the senior players, the juniors will also create some upsets.
“Even besides Lee and Taufik, the field looks competitive and hopefully the senior players like P Kashyap and Arvind Bhat will do well. I would be glad if some of the guys can go beyond the last eight. Here is the place where Kashyap won the bronze in Commonwealth Games, so they have familiar conditions,” he said.
“I am also excited to see how the young shuttlers fare in the tournament. It is a big opportunity for them to play in a Super Series event. For players like Sai Praneeth and HS Prannoy, it is a good platform. It is their first year in the senior international circuit and I hope they would create some surprises,” he added.
Asked about India’s chances in the mixed doubles category, Gopichand said it all depends on how V Diju plays in the tournament.
“V Diju has a bit of a problem with his back but should be fine before the tournament. If he plays well, they (Diju and his partner Jwala Gutta) can pull off a victory,” he said.