Chinese top seeds pull out; Sindhu, Axelsen new favourites

China's Shi Yuqi and Chen Yufei have withdrawn on medical grounds. Yuqi, the 2018 World championship runner-up, is the defending men’s champion while Yufei won her maiden All England title and added the Swiss Open crown recently.

In the absence of the highest world-ranked Chinese singles players, P. V. Sindhu becomes the ranking favourite for the women’s crown at the Indian Open.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

In a late development, the Indian Open badminton championship suffered a serious loss of sheen when World No. 2 and top seeds in singles, Shi Yuqi and Chen Yufei withdrew citing medical grounds.

Shi Yuqi, the 2018 World championship runner-up, is also the defending men’s champion. This month, Chen Yufei won her maiden All England Open title and added the Swiss Open crown.

In the absence of the highest world-ranked Chinese singles players, P. V. Sindhu becomes the ranking favourite for the women’s crown, much like the 2017 World champion Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, in the men’s singles.

Earlier this week, fifth seed Saina Nehwal pulled out due to acute bout of gastroenteritis and mild pancreatitis.

Related: Satwik - Chirag pull out of India Open

The event will be played at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here from March 26 to 31.

Axelsen, the finalist of the All England championship this month, said, “The draw is exciting, although some of the top players are not here. But I don’t try to focus too much on the draw. I am looking playing Misha (Zilberman) in the first round.”

Returning from an injury and talking about the All England performance, he said, “All England was one of the big goals, and I did well there. It is very hard to prepare for every tournament. Physically, I feel okay now but I am not at my peak condition. The next goal obviously for me is the World Championship.”