After their Malaysia Masters campaign ended in the quarter-final stage, Indian shuttlers will now look forward to the Indonesia Masters scheduled to begin on Wednesday. And with Olympic qualification still on the line, they would need to step up their game after a seemingly underpar display in Kuala Lumpur.
Potential Saina-Sindhu face-off in second round
With PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal ending their respective Malaysia Masters campaign in the quarter-finals against Tai Tzu Ying and Carolina Marin respectively, the Indonesia Masters draw has put them in a tight spot.
PV Sindhu will be facing Japan’s Aya Ohori while Nehwal will take on Japan’s Sayaki Takahashi in the first round, and a progress for both the top Indian shuttlers would see them in an all-Indian second round clash.
PV Sindhu has now beaten Ohori on all the nine occasions they have met so far, while Saina Nehwal enjoys a 4-2 head-to-head advantage against Takahashi.
Sai Praneeth, HS Prannoy handed tricky draws
The 2019 BWF World Championships bronze medallist, B Sai Praneeth had a rather unceremonious end to his Malaysia Masters campaign after he bowed out in the first round against Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke.
This time, Praneeth has been pitted against China’s Shi Yu Qi, who has been seeded eighth in the tournament in Indonesia. The two have faced each other thrice since May 2018, with the Chinese coming out on top on all three occasions.
HS Prannoy was the only harbinger of good news at the Malaysia Masters for India after he stunned a higher-ranked Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan in the first round, before world no.1 Kento Momota brought an end to his challenge.
HS Prannoy will have a tough start this time as well against Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie, who is seeded sixth in the tournament.
Kidambi Srikanth running out of chances
Once Indian men’s singles’ hero, who went on to win four Super Series titles in a calendar season in 2017, Kidambi Srikanth has since been struggling to strike that form. B Sai Praneeth has taken precedence over his compatriot and another underwhelming start to the season could see the former world no. 1 missing out on the 2020 Olympics.
Kidambi Srikanth was eliminated by second-seeded Chou Tien Chen in Malaysia in the first round, but the Indian would hope to come back to winning ways against Shesar Hiren Rhustavito of Indonesia, who is eight ranks below him. Interestingly, Rhustavito has beaten Srikanth in the only two times they have faced so far.
In other draws, Parupalli Kahsyap will have to overcome the challenge of seventh-seeded Anthony Ginting, a local favourite, while Sameer Verma takes on Tommy Sugiarto, who is 12 ranks above him. A win for both the Indians in the first round will see them facing each other in the next.
Ranki and Shetty handed stiff task
The new-found mojo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty didn’t help their cause at the Malaysia Masters as the men’s doubles duo were outdone in the very first round by Malaysia’s Ong Yew Sin and Two Ee Yi.
And their task has got more difficult at the Indonesia Masters, where they have been drawn against the second-seeded pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.
In other doubles draws, the women’s singles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will be facing Japan’s Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida. The mixed doubles match will see Ponnappa pairing up with Rankireddy to face Ireland’s Sam Magee and Chloe Magee.