A potential treasure trove for Indian shuttlers

From an Indian perspective, the $120,000 Syed Modi International Grand Prix is the only badminton event that brings together the best of country’s talent. Notwithstanding the withdrawal of Saina Nehwal, this year’s field is a rich one and just right for the Indians to gain confidence, with a fair amount of ranking points thrown in.

P. V. Sindhu (left) and K. Srikanth are expected to do well in the women's and men's singles categories.   -  Vipin Chandran

From an Indian perspective, the $120,000 Syed Modi International Grand Prix is the only badminton event that brings together the best of country’s talent. Ranked behind the India Open Super Series, this annual event showcases even the bench-strength of Indian badminton. In India Open, the Tata Open or even the National championship, not every leading player cares, or gets, to play.

Notwithstanding the withdrawal of Saina Nehwal, this year’s field is a rich one and just right for the Indians to gain confidence, with a fair amount of ranking points thrown in.

Though inconsistent for different reasons in the past year, top seed K. Srikanth and defending champion P. Kashyap are still good enough at the Grand Prix level in the given field. Similarly, the likes of H. S. Prannoy, Ajay Jayaram, B. Sai Praneeth, Anand Pawar, R. M. V. Gurusaidutt, Sourabh and Sameer Varma get at least a chance to hit headlines by playing above their billing.

The overseas challenge – thinner after the withdrawal of second seeded in-from Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto – will be led by third seed Korean Son Wan Ho, followed by compatriot Lee Dong Keon, Japanese duo of Sho Sasaki, Takuma Ueda and the unpredictable Thai Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk.

Sindhu leads Indian ladies contingent

Among the ladies, where the Indian challenge virtually begins and ends with P. V. Sindhu in this edition, Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun heads the field, followed by teammate Bae Yeon Ju and the Japanese players – Sayaka Sato and Yui Hashimoto – adding to the competition. Kirsty Gilmour, the losing finalist to Sindhu in last Sunday’s final of Malaysia Masters, is also in the list of seeded title-aspirants.

Though unpredictable, G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa are seeded six, but they are expected to find the going tough with eight of the top-18 combinations, including three from the top-10, in the fray. Whether in men’s doubles or mixed doubles, the Indian challenge is going to be short lived.

But in the singles, Srikanth and Sindhu can be expected to go all the way. Srikanth, who lost to Kashyap in an exciting final here in January, is yet to prove his superiority over the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist though he has pulled ahead in the ranking-race.

Though Kashyap’s recurring injury – whether shoulder or knee – has hampered his return to peak form, it remains to be seen how this fighter battles the odds this week to retain the ranking points gained last year.

Seeded six, Jayaram has a fine opportunity to prove his might against the challengers trained by National coach P. Gopi Chand. By retaining the Dutch Open title and reaching the Korea Open final last year, Jayaram is naturally upbeat and enjoying his career-high world ranking of 21.

Overall, watch out for the lesser-known Indians for some exciting results.