Olympic silver-medallist P. V. Sindhu and World No. 2 Kidambi Srikanth have been given the top billing in their respective women’s and men’s singles badminton competitions of the Commonwealth Games, starting at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on April 10.
In the draw of 64, Sindhu will begin her quest for the gold in the second round against Falkland Islands’ Zoe Morris after both the players received byes in their respective opening rounds.
The 22-year-old Indian is expected to meet 2014 Glasgow Games champion Michelle Li in the semifinals. The third seeded Canadian had beaten Sindhu in the semi-finals four years back en route the gold medal.
The 2010 champion and former world No. 1 Saina Nehwal has been seeded second and will start her campaign with a second-round clash against Elsie de Villiers in the other half of the draw.
Ruthvika Gadde, meanwhile, has been seeded eighth and she will face the winner of the match between Ghana’s Atipaka Grace Gha and Ah Wan Juliette of Seychelles in the second round after receiving a bye in the first round. She is likely to face 2014 silver medallist Kristy Gilmour in the quarterfinals.
In men’s singles, Srikanth, who clinched four titles in the last season, will open his campaign against Liam Fong of Fiji and is likely to clash with 2010 silver-medallist Rajiv Ouseph in the semi-finals.
The other Indian H. S. Prannoy, who reached the quarterfinals at the All England Championship last month, has been seeded third and will start his tournament with a second-round clash with the winner of the match between Mauritius’ Paul Christopher Jean and Seychellois Steve Malcouzane.
He is expected to face three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei, who has been seeded second, in the semifinals. The Malaysian star, a household name in Asia, won the gold medal at the Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010 Games.
Prannoy had defeated Lee twice last year at the Indonesia Open and Denmark Open.
Malaysia’s depth will be on show with mixed doubles pairing of Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai and defending men’s doubles champions Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong emerging as gold medal favourites.
For India, men’s doubles combo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksai Rankireddy are the dark horses. The duo, who had reached the semifinals at the Indonesia Masters, got a bye and will face either Lubah Aatish and Paul CJ of Mauritius or Falkland Islands’ Clark Douglas and Adeoye Tobi in their first match.
Mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki, seeded fourth, will also fancy their chances as they square up against Gibson Karyn and Molia Burty of Fijji or Uganda’s Kasirye Brian and Nakiyemba Aisha in a second-round match.
Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa will open their campaign against Guernsey’s Hardy Stuart and Chloe le Tissier.
In the women’s doubles, Melbourne’s Gronya Somerville and Indonesian-born Setyana Mapasa have been handed the top billing and are tipped to take the gold.
N. Sikki Reddy and Ashwini are seeded second and will be up against either Australian combo of Veeran Renuga and Choo Leanne or Singapore’s Ong Ren-Ne and Wong J Y C in the second round after getting a bye. Ashwini, who had clinched a gold and silver alongwith Jwala Gutta, will be hoping to be third time lucky.
Badminton event will begin on Thursday with the mixed team championship, which features the Commonwealth’s top 16 nations across four groups, including top contenders Malaysia, England and India.