Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal to kick off All England campaign with difficult draws

Teenager Lakshya Sen will be making his debut in the All England Open with a clash against Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu.

By Subhayan Dutta ·

Star Indian badminton players PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth and others will all be competing in the All England Open’s 2020 edition, which is scheduled to start from March 11 at Birmingham Arena.

As many as 18 Indian badminton players will be participating across five categories in the 121-year-old tournament, which had a maximum of 12,000 points on offer last year.

Kidambi Srikanth, Sameer Verma handed tough draws

India will have seven badminton players competing in the men’s singles category that includes young Lakshya Sen, 18, making his debut at the All England Open 2020, with the Indian male shuttlers yet to be seeded.

Former world no. 1 Kidambi Srikanth has been pitted against third-seeded Chen Long of China. The Indian world no.12 has played Chen Long eight times in his career, losing on six occasions and will look to better his head-to-head record when they clash on March 11.

Sameer Verma is drawn against top-seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei. The latter hasn’t been dominating courts so far in 2020 but enjoys a 2-0 head-to-head advantage over the Indian badminton player.

The other Indian men’s singles matches will see HS Prannoy facing Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei, Sourabh Verma taking on Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama, and Indian badminton veteran Parupalli Kashyap going up against Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren Rhustavito.

B Sai Praneeth's career’s first significant achievement was his bronze medal at the 2010 BWF World Junior Championships

India’s current top-ranked shuttler, B Sai Praneeth has been handed a tricky draw against China’s Zhao Jun Peng. The Chinese world no. 31 has faced the Indian badminton ace only once previously, in the 2016 Macau Open, where he had emerged victorious in straight games.

Lee Cheuk Yiu will be up against 18-year-old Lakshya Sen, who has been a familiar foe for the Hong Kong shuttler in the Premier Badminton League. Apart from that, the Indian had faced his Hong Kong counterpart two years back in the Crown Group of the 2018 Australian Open which Lakshya Sen ended up losing.

Saina Nehwal takes on Akane Yamaguchi

Indian badminton veteran Saina Nehwal has had an underwhelming start to the 2020 season as the star shuttler hasn’t managed to go past the quarter-final stage in any of the four competitions she has competed in so far.

To complicate matters, she will be kicking-off her All England Open campaign with a high-profile clash against third-seeded Akane Yamaguchi of Japan. Saina Nehwal comes into the match as the second favourite after losing eight of her ten matches against the Japanese.

PV Sindhu, the only Indian to be seeded in the All England Open 2020, will be facing USA’s Beiwen Zhang. The American badminton star has been shoulder-to-shoulder to her Indian counterpart on most occasions with PV Sindhu edging her out narrowly 5-4 in the head-to-head record.

Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will face Setyana Mapasa and Gronya Somerville of Australia

Rankireddy-Shetty to face top seeds in opener

India’s first-choice men’s doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty has been drawn against top-seeded Indonesian duo of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.

The last time these pairs had clashed was in the 2019 China Open semi-final, where the Indian badminton duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty had lost in straight games.

In the women’s doubles category, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will be facing Setyana Mapasa and Gronya Somerville of Australia. Ashwini Ponnappa will also partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in the mixed doubles category to face Chinese Taipei’s Lee Jhe-Huei and Hsu Ya Ching.