Indian shuttlers in absence of an injured PV Sindhu will be up for a tough grind as the badminton season begins with the Denmark Open Super 750 tournament in Odense on Tuesday.
Sindhu is on her path to recovery after sustaining an ankle injury during her gold medal winning campaign at the Commonwealth Games.
In her absence, all eyes will be on the likes of Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy and doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who won a historic bronze medal at the World Championships in Tokyo in August.
But with no Indians being seeded in the singles, it will be a tough draw for the Indian shuttlers.
With a career-high world ranking of No. 8, Sen will face sixth seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, against whom, the Indian holds a 2-0 head-to-head edge, having beaten him at the German Open and Thomas Cup final this year.
But it remains to be seen whether the Indian is rusty coming back after a break. A win could pit him against fellow Indian H S Prannoy, who takes on Zhao Jun Peng in his opening round.
For that to happen, Prannoy has to overcome the Peng challenge for the first time. The Chinese world No. 19 has a 2-0 head-to-head advantage, having won against Prannoy in the World Championships in August and the other being at the Indonesia Open in June.
The other Indian heavyweight Srikanth will be up against Angus Ng Ka Long with the duo having a 3-3 overall record.
The last encounter saw the Indian beating the Hong Kong lad but it has been more than a year at the HYLO Open and since then the Srikanth has been struggling to be consistent.
The road will only get tougher for Srikanth if he manages to carve out a win as his next potential challenger could be seventh seed Loh Kean Yew.
They are in the same quarter as top seed and home favourite and world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen, fresh from winning the World Championships.
Axelsen will face Kunlavut Vitidsarn in a rematch of the World Championship final.
Veteran Saina Nehwal will be the sole Indian in fray in women's singles and will take on China's Zhang Yi Man as the Indian would look to avenge her defeat way back in 2016 in their only clash so far.
If she manages to get past the opening round hurdle, Saina could face fifth seed Ratchanok Intanon.
On a high after winning a bronze at the World Championship, Satwik-Chirag will be up against South Koreans Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae, who had beaten the Indian duo in April.
In the women's doubles, Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Treesa Jolly and Gayathri Gopichand will face the local favourites Alexandra Boje and Amalie Magelund.
In the mixed doubles, Indian pair of Tanisha Crasto and Ishaan Bhatnagar will take on Indonesia's Pitha Haningtyas Mentari and Rinov Rivaldy.