Kuala Lumpur: Indian shuttlers will be aiming for a victorious start to the BWF World Tour 2023 season with the Malaysia Open, which has been upgraded from BWF Super 750 to Super 1000 category, commences here at the Axiata Arena on Tuesday.
Indian badminton players will be joining star shuttlers from across the world including World Champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia, and Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, Korean An Se Young in the Super 1000 tournament.
P.V. Sindhu, who is returning after a lengthy injury break, will face a stern test in the opening round match as she faces Rio Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain.
The ace Indian shuttler was last seen in action at the Commonwealth Games in August 2022, where she sustained a stress fracture in her left ankle. As a result, she pulled out of the last year’s World Championships and World Tour Finals.
The Spaniard, who defeated Sindhu in the 2016 Rio Olympics final, leads 9-5 in the head-to-head record over her Indian counterpart. Their last meeting was in 2021 at the Swiss Open final where Marin emerged victorious in straight games.
Saina Nehwal, Malvika Bansod, and Aakarshi Kashyap will also be aiming for a flying start to the year in Kuala Lumpur in the women’s singles category.
Nehwal will play unseeded Chinese Han Yue, Aakarshi will be up against Hsu Wen-Chi of Taipei while Malvika will face a tougher opponent in the form of second-seed An Se Young of South Korea in the opening round.
In the men’s singles, India’s top-ranked players — Lakshya Sen and H.S. Prannoy — will battle it out for a place in the pre-quarterfinals. World championships 2021 silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth, ranked 13 in the world, will face Japanese shuttler, Kenta Nishimoto.
World championships bronze medallists pair, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will lead India’s challenge in men’s doubles and will square off with the Korean duo of Choi Sol Gyu and Kim Won Ho.
If the star Indian duo prevails in the initial rounds, they will set a potential quarterfinal clash with Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists and World Champion Malaysian duo of Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik.
Another men’s doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala will play the Korean combination of Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae in their first-round clash.
In women’s doubles, the 2022 Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand will take on Hong Kong’s Yeung Nga Ting and Yeung Pui Lam while Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam are drawn to play Thailand’s Supissara Paewsampran and Putita Supajirakul in the first round.
Men’s singles: HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth
Women’s singles: PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Malvika Bansod, Aakarshi Kashyap
Men’s doubles: Chirag Shetty/Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Krishna Prasad Garaga/ Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala
Women’s doubles: Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand, Ashwini Bhat/Shikha Gautam,