Indian badminton players face a race against time to improve their standing before the BWF releases the all-important Olympic Qualification rankings on April 30.
That is why the Barcelona Spain Masters 2020, scheduled from February 18-23, may prove to be of crucial importance.
The Super 300 tournament will be offering a maximum of 7,000 points, which could significantly help the causes of Indian badminton stars Kidambi Srikanth, Sourabh Verma, Parupalli Kashyap and Saina Nehwal.
Schedule and fixtures for Barcelona Spain Masters 2020
India’s top-ranked shuttler B Sai Praneeth has been seeded second in the $170,000 tournament and he will be kicking off his campaign in of the all-Indian first-round clashes against Sameer Verma. B Sai Praneeth enjoys a 4-2 advantage in head-to-head with Sameer Verma.
India’s former world no. 1 badminton player Kidambi Srikanth, who is seeded third, will be facing compatriot Subhankar Dey in his first match. They have faced each other only once so far, with Kidambi Srikanth taking the honours.
Sourabh Verma will be up against Israel’s Misha Zilberman.
India will have just one representative in the women’s singles event in the form of Saina Nehwal, who will be kicking off her campaign against Germany’s Yvonne Li. The 2012 Olympics bronze medallist’s first high-profile match, however, isn’t expected to come before the quarter-final, where Saina Nehwal could face third-seeded Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand.
While Indian badminton will be seeing the pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Krishna Prasad Garaga playing England’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy in the men’s doubles event, the duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Siki Reddy is drawn against China’s Chen Lu and Zu Ya in the women’s doubles.
Apart from this, N Sikki Reddy teams up with Pranaav Jerry Chopra in the mixed doubles event as well, facing Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Bøje.
Why the Barcelona Spain Masters 2020 is important for the Olympics
The ranking points of the Grade 2 BWF tour tournaments – Levels 1 to 6, which includes the Barcelona Spain Masters 2020, will be taken into consideration for the BWF Olympic Qualification rankings table.
The most intense competition between Indian badminton players is expected to be seen in the lower half of the men’s singles ranking table, where Sourabh Verma (21st), Parupalli Kashyap (22nd) and KIdambi Srikanth (26th) fight to get into the top 16 quota places for direct qualification for the 2020 Olympics.
India’s veteran women’s singles badminton player Saina Nehwal is currently 22nd on the BWF Olympic Qualification rankings table and will need to garner points, and fast, to get into the top 16.
Chirag Shetty is already in the top eight direct qualifications for men’s doubles alongside partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. The chances further get slimmer for women’s doubles duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy, currently ranked 30th.
Where to watch Barcelona Spain Masters 2020
The semi-finals and final of the tournament will be broadcast across Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD and Star Sports 3 on Saturday (February 22) and Sunday (February 23) in India.