India Open Sindhu prepares to defend title Axelsens late pullout makes Srikanth the favourite

India Open: Sindhu prepares to defend title, Axelsen’s late pullout makes Srikanth the favourite

Ladies field lacks depth

P. V. Sindhu is back but World No. 1 Victor Axelsen will
not be around to defend the singles titles in the $350,000 India Open
singles titles here this week.

Axelsen chose to withdraw from the event at the last minute. That gave
Shubhankar Dey the place at the top of the draw without having to go
through Tuesday’s qualifying rounds. The Dane is the only seed to
withdraw but his pullout should make things a lot easier for second
seed and World No. 3 K. Srikanth

In Axelsen’s absence, another Dane Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus,
World No. 10 H. S. Prannoy and Commonwealth champion P. Kashyap will
be the main contenders for a place in the quarter-final from the
top-quarter of the draw.

The one who makes it faces a possible semi-final against third seed and
last year’s finalist Chou Tien Chen can be expected before the much
anticipated title-clash against Srikanth.

For Srikanth, the lung-opener could well be in the quarter-finals
against last year’s semi-finalist and lanky Dane Anders Antonsen,
seeded seven. Last year, the Indian challenge had ended in the
quarter-finals with the defeat of Sameer Verma.

This week, Sameer faces Antonsen in the first round and should he
survive the day, the winner of Ajay Jayaram-Tommy Sugiarto match will
be up next.

Interestingly, the third-quarter of the draw has all three Chinese,
including fourth seed Shi Yuqi. Here, Saurabh Verma starts his
campaign against Shi Yuqi.

In contrast, the ladies singles looks fairly straightforward. In the
absence of the leading Japanese and Chinese names, the field lacks
depth. As a result, it should not come as a surprise if the top four
seeds reach the semi-finals without much ado.

Sindhu, reeling under last week’s straight-game loss to Saina Nehwal,
will be desperate to defend the title ahead of despite the presence of
Olympic champion Carolina Marin, former world champion Ratchanok
Intanon and Saina.

Should the seedings hold and there are no late withdrawals, Sindhu and
Intanon should face-off in the first semi-finals and await the
Marin-Saina clash to decide the other finalist.

Settling scores

Last year, Sindhu scored a 21-16, 22-20 win over Saina in the
quarter-finals. But since then, Saina has more than settled the score
by posting straight-game victories in the National championship final
and in last week’s Indonesia Masters quarter-finals.

Given the intense rivalry between the two Indian ladies, another
‘grudge’ match could well be in the offing on Sunday.

The seedings:

Men: 1. Viktor Axelsen (Denmark, withdrawn), 2. K. Srikanth, 3. Chou
Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei), 4. Shi Yuqi (Chn), 5. H. S. Prannoy, 6.
Wang Tzu Wei (Chinese Taipei), 7. Anders Antonsen (Denmark), 8. B. Sai

Women: 1. P. V. Sindhu, 2. Carolina Marin (Spain), 3. Ratchanok
Intanon (Indonesia), 4. Saina Nehwal, 5. Beiwen Zhang (USA), 6. Cheung
Ngan Yi (Hong Kong), 7. Yip Pui Yin (Hong Kong), 8. Beatriz Corrales

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