The season-opening Malaysia Open Super 1000 followed a familiar script as the last season: the top-ranked players in all five disciplines remained the dominant forces on the BWF World Tour, and the Indian singles players continued to search for form.
The men’s doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, India’s most successful campaigners last season, returned home with their best result - a semifinal finish. Meanwhile, big names like P.V. Sindhu, H.S. Prannoy, Lakshya Sen and Kidambi Srikanth exited early.
Now, as the World Tour moves from Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi for the India Open, recently upgraded to Super 750, Indian shuttlers will hope to improve in front of the home crowd at the K.D. Jadhav Indoor Hall.
The $900,000 Super Series category event will be held from January 17-22.
READ | India Open, now a Super 750 event and open to spectators, to kickstart new season of badminton
While reigning champion Satwik-Chirag will continue to be India’s biggest title hope, all eyes will be on star shuttler Sindhu. Despite making a first-round exit in her comeback meet at the Malaysia Open, the former world champion will be the home favourite for the women’s singles title.
The 27-year-old will once again hope to dominate the World Tour by winning her second India Open title before setting her eyes on much bigger laurels like the All England Open and World Championships.
World no. 7 Sindhu had to spend almost half of the season on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury she suffered during the Commonwealth Games.
However, Sindhu might face a tough test as the women’s singles field has no clear favourite. World no. 1 Akane Yamaguchi might have complemented her last month’s World Tour title with the Malaysia Open crown, but she is not invincible.
Sindhu will be tested time and again with Chinese shuttlers Chen Yufei and He Bingjiao looking to reassert their authority ahead of next year’s Paris Olympics. At the same time, the field has South Korea’s top singles star, An Se Young, the Malaysia Open runner-up. With reigning champion Busanan Ongbamrungphan also touching down in Delhi, it promises to be an open field.
READ | Badminton in 2023, What to expect: Sindhu’s return, Axelsen’s dominance, Sudirman Cup
Veterans Carolina Marin, Nozomi Okuhara and Saina Nehwal’s desire to prove their mettle against the youngsters could further light up the event. Young guns Malvika Bansod and Aakarshi Kashyap will have their task cut out.
Unlike women’s singles, the men’s singles field, like the last season, continues to be dominated by world no. 1 Viktor Axelsen, fresh from claiming his ninth Super Series Premier title in Kuala Lumpur.
Yet, India could rely on reigning champion Lakshya Sen and H.S. Prannoy, the best performing Indian in men’s singles last season, to end the title drought. The two are among the only three players who beat Axelsen in 2022. Meanwhile, Kidambi Srikanth, if in form, could pull off a surprise.
Also Read | India Open 2023: Top five matches to watch out
Besides them, Japanese Kodai Naraoka, who recently lost two back-to-back finals against Axelsen, will be the one to watch out for, along with Lee Zii Jia, Loh Kean Yew and Thai star Kunlavut Vitidsarn.
In the men’s doubles, in-form Satwik-Chirag will be the favourites. But they will face a stiff challenge from the Indonesian pair of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto, who are fresh from setting a unique record of winning a title each in Super 300, 500, 750 and 1000 tournaments.
Japanese top seed Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi, Liu Yu Chen-Ou Xuan Yi, Choi Sol Gyu-Kim Won Ho, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen are the other pairings to watch out for in the event.
READ |India Open 2023: Sindhu, Marin’s Paris Olympic preps begin, but duo ‘just happy to be able to compete’
In this field, the most anticipated contest could be between Chia-Soh and Satwik-Chirag, as the Indian pair has a jinx to break against the Malaysians.
Eyes will also be on the rising Indian pairing of Krishan Prasad Garga-Vishnuvardhan Goud. However, the Dhruv Kapila-M.R. Arjun pairing will be missing in action.
Women’s doubles, meanwhile, promises to be interesting. Emerging pairings of Treesa Jolly-Gayatri Gopichand and Benyapa Aimsaard-Nuntakarn Aimsaard will be determined to make their presence felt against big guns such as Parley Tan-Thinaah Muralitharan.
However, the World Tour Finals and Malaysia Open-winning Chinese pair Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan will be favourites.
Like men’s singles, the mixed doubles promises to be an uneven field. World No. 1 and top seed Zheng Siwei-Huang Ya Qiong won 10 of the 14 events in 2022 and just retained their domination in the Malaysia Open.