Indian shuttlers eye improved form at Thailand Masters

With most stars playing in PBL, India has sent only four shuttlers at the Super 300 tournament.

By Subhayan Dutta ·

With only a two day gap between the Indonesian Masters and the start of the Thailand Masters, most of the big names have decided to skip the tournament.

The scheduling of the fifth edition of the Premier Badminton League from January 20 has further bereft the Thailand Masters of big names as well.

However, with the Olympic qualifications of some shuttlers relying majorly upon the BWF Rankings table scheduled to be released at the end of April, the Super 300 competition does hold significance for some of the big names in Indian badminton.

Saina Nehwal looking to overcome poor start

Getting eliminated from the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Masters at the hands of Carolina Marin and from the Round of 32 of the Indonesia Masters by Sayaka Takahashi, 2012 Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal’s 2020 season hasn’t started well.

Eyeing to make amends, the world no. 11 will be starting her campaign with a clash against Line Højmark Kjaersfeldt of Denmark. Coming into Thailand Masters as the fifth seed, Saina Nehwal will be a clear favourite against the Danish shuttler, who has never won on any of the four previous occasions these two have met.

Saina Nehwal in action

Saina Nehwal could face second-seeded Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the quarter-finals if she manages to win her first two rounds. Coming fresh from a title win at the Indonesia Masters, the Thai star will be the Indian shuttler’s first big test in the tournament.

Kidambi Srikanth seeks revenge

After getting outclassed by second-seeded Chou Tien Chen at the Malaysia Masters’ first-round, Kidambi Srikanth was expected to go past Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren Rhustavito easily in the opening round at Indonesia Masters.

But, the former no. 1 was stunned in a three-game marathon as the Indians slump continues.

Rhustavito has beaten Kidambi Srikanth on all the three occasions they have faced so far, and the unseeded Indonesian shuttler can be a tricky proposition for the fifth-seeded Indian in his opening match in Bangkok again.

Drawn into the lower half of the table, Kidambi Srikanth could potentially face China’s Shi Yu Qi in the quarter-finals.

Race against time for HS Prannoy

HS Prannoy has been one of the most successful Indian shuttlers in the franchise-based Premier Badminton League competition. And his decision to skip the tournament in order to participate in Thailand Masters speaks volumes about his determination to squeeze into India’s badminton contingent at Tokyo 2020.

HS Prannoy will be up against Malaysia’s Daren Liew in his opening clash of the Thailand Masters and could also face Chinese shuttler Shi Yu Qi in the second round itself. First-round wins for HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth could also see an all-Indian quarter-finals clash at Bangkok’s Indoor Stadium Huamark.

Apart from them, Sameer Verma is facing seventh-seeded Lee Zii Jia in his first match and could be coming up against third-seeded NG Ka Long Angus in the quarter-finals, if he progresses that far.