Former Olympic medallist Saina Nehwal and B. Sai Praneeth, the former World Championships bronze medallist, are the top Indian shuttlers who will compete at the Orleans Masters, a Super 300 level badminton tournament, at Palais Des Sports, Orleans, France, starting Tuesday.
With P.V. Sindhu, the runner-up at the Madrid Spain Masters last week, and the top doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty, who was seeded number one, pulling out, no Indian players are entering the event as seeded.
World no. 7 Carolina Marin, the 2016 Olympic gold medallist, is the top seed in women’s singles, while Japanese Kenta Nishimoto leads the pack in men’s singles.
Saina, the world no. 31, and Sai Praneeth, the world no 49, face a qualifier in their respective first-round matches.
There will be two all-Indian clashes to watch out for today, with Priyanshu Rajawat taking on fellow India Kiran George in men’s singles and Tanya Hemanth facing Aakarshi Kashyap in women’s singles in the opening round. Tasnim Mir and Ashmita Chaliha are the other Indian women’s singles players in the fray at the event.
Among the youngsters, eyes will be on Sankar Muthusamy, the World Junior Championships silver medallist. Sankar begins his campaign as a qualifier against Ade Resky Dwicahyo of Azerbaijan.
In men’s singles, Mithun Manjunath, the world no. 43, will be playing Victor Svendsen of Denmark in the opening round. Sameer Verma, the world no. 78, is the other Indian men’s singles specialist who will be in action today.
In men’s doubles, M.R. Arjun and Dhruv Kapila are India’s biggest hopes, and they start their campaign against Ondrej Kral and Adam Mendrek of the Czech Republic.
Experienced Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto will be looking forward to making the best of a weaker field in women’s doubles. Youngsters Simran Singhi-Ritika Thaker and veteran N. Sikki Reddy, who is pairing up with Arathi Sara Sunil, will also be looking forward to making a mark.
In mixed doubles, Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy will partner B. Summeeth Reddy and Rohan Kapoor.
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