The Superseries events in badminton are about to kick off as the 105th edition of the All England Open Badminton Championships is scheduled from 3rd March to 8th March. The All England Championships which began in 1899 is the oldest badminton tournament in the world and this is the 22nd year that it will be held in Birmingham.
The 2015 calendar presents a change as the Superseries events will now begin in March instead of January. The hiatus from the circuit is a much welcome decision as it will help the top players to come more motivated and refreshed to the elite events.
15 Indians in action at the All England Championships
This week will see a return of the top shuttlers which includes India’s Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth. Eight Indians will be in action in the main draw of the Birmingham tournament while seven will be playing in the qualifiers. And yet, the biggest casualty is, world number nine and India number two PV Sindhu who is out for six weeks with a stress fracture in her foot.
World #3 Saina Nehwal starts against a qualifier on Wednesday. But the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold champion has her task cut out in the quarters as she is likely to face the fifth seed Wang Yihan. The former world #1 Chinese has beaten the Indian 8 out of 9 times.
The Indian shuttle queen, though has shown significant improvement in her movement across the court since she started working in Bangalore with Vimal Kumar. And winning the All England Championships is definitely the next target for the 24-year-old.
“I have never won the All England. I did reach the semis but could not go further. So I will try my best to improve my performance this year. It has always been a dream to win this title,” said Saina before leaving for England.
Men’s singles draw
In men’s singles, the three Indians ranked inside the top 20 – #5 Kidambi Srikanth, #12 Parupalli Kashyap and #18 HS Prannoy – are all placed in different quarters.
The top-ranked Indian player, Kidambi Srikanth has a tough draw and starts against world #14 Kento Momota of Japan. If he gets past the Japanese, the 16th-ranked German Marc Zwiebler awaits him in the second round.
But for Srikanth, the most anticipated clash is the one in the quarter-finals as it sets him up against the two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan. The last time the young Indian had met the experienced Chinese, it was Srikanth’s heroics which stole the limelight as he beat Lin Dan to win the China Open. So, it will be interesting to see if he can keep up that form against Dan.
Parupalli Kashyap started the new season with a lot of confidence by claiming the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold title. He will kick off his campaign against the #7 Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei. Kashyap has beaten the Taipei player twice. Kashyap faces a tough draw if he is able to win his first round match. He may have to line up against #10 Wang Zhengming in the second round and #1 Chen Long in the quarters.
Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold winner HS Prannoy will begin against Frenchman Brice Leverdez and then has #4 Son Wan Ho as his potential second round opponent. The Korean will present a strong challenge as he reached the German Grand Prix Gold semi-finals last week.
Meanwhile, Anand Pawar and Ajay Jayaram will compete in the men’s singles qualifiers on Tuesday.
In women’s doubles, the 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will start against the Malaysian pair of Fie Cho Soong and Amelia Alicia Anscelly.
Ashwini, meanwhile, will also look to secure a place in the mixed doubles main draw. The Indian will begin her quest in the qualifiers with her Russian partner Vladimir Ivanov on Tuesday.
In men’s doubles, Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy will test themselves against the seventh seeded Chinese pair of Chai Biao and Hong Wei in the opening round. In the qualifiers in this category, the Indian pairs in action are D. Guru Prasad/Venkatesh Prasad and S. Sanjeeth/Jagadish Yadav.
Sports Rediscovered wishes all the Indian players best of luck as they begin their quest at the All England Championships.