Kidambi Srikanth drew curtains on the season after pulling out of the Syed Modi International Tournament on Monday because an injury. In a post on Twitter, Srikanth announced: "I shall not be playing the Syed Modi India Open next week due to some injury concerns. With that, the year has now come to an end for me. Thank you all for your continuous wishes and prayers."
According to a support staff, Srikanth had complained of acute pain in the toe before he crashed out of Hong Kong Open in the quarterfinals.
With P.V. Sindhu also pulling out to focus on next month's World Tour Finals in China, the tournament, which begins on Tuesday, has lost a bit of sheen.
India will have two defending champions in the tournament with Sameer Verma looking to retain the title to enhance his chances of qualifying for the year-ending World Tour Final. The mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy, too, will eye a repeat.
In Sindhu’s absence, Saina will be the cynosure of all eyes and the celebrated Indian has been in decent form this year having won a gold at the Commonwealth Games and a bronze at the Asian Games. She reached the finals at the Indonesia Masters in January and Denmark in October.
The London Olympic bronze medallist will look to secure her maiden BWF title of this season when she begins her campaign against Mauritius’ Kate Foo Kune in the opening round.
With a host of Indians making up the draw, Saina is likely to face little resistance till her journey to the final, where she is expected to meet former Olympic champion China’s Li Xuerui, who has won at Canada, US and the China Masters after making a comeback following a two-year hiatus.
In the men's action, H.S. Prannoy and Sameer Verma, who won titles at Swiss Open and Hyderabad Open, will fancy their chances after Srikanth's pullout.
Parupalli Kashyap will begin his campaign against Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk while Prannoy will start against Thailand’s Adulrach Namkul and is likely to meet 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist R.M.V. Gurusaidutt in the third round.
For that, Guru, who is trying to make a comeback after recovering from a career-threatening ankle injury, will have to fight his way against Germany’s Jonathan Persson and probably Misha Zilberman of Israel to enter the quarterfinals.
Fourth seed B. Sai Praneeth, who had won the Singapore Open last year, will square off against Russia’s Sergey Sirant in the opening match, while Subhankar Dey, who claimed his maiden title at SaarLorLux Open, will open against China’s Zhou Zeqi.
Seventh seed Sourabh Verma, who won titles at Russia and Dutch Open, will start against China’s Zhou Zeqi.
Also in action would be India’s top men’s doubles pairs of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who are the silver medallists at the Commonwealth Games, and national champions Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy.
The women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy will also look to put their best foot forward, while Ashwini will also pair up with Satwik in mixed doubles.