Star shuttlers P V Sindhu and HS Prannoy will look to sustain their momentum when they spearhead the Indian challenge at the Malaysia Masters Super 500 badminton tournament, starting on Tuesday.
Sindhu and Prannoy had suffered contrasting defeats at the quarterfinal stage of the Malaysia Open Super 750 last week and will look to make amends this week even though there was hardly any time to iron out the flaws.
While Sindhu has claimed two Super 300 titles at Syed Modi International and Swiss Open this year, Prannoy is desperate to end a five-year long wait for a title win.
Sindhu, a two-time Olympic medallist, has been consistently reaching the quarters and semis of the world tour events but she has looked slightly vulnerable against the top players.
Her losses against Thailand’s Ratchanok Inthanon, China’s Chen Yu Fei and He Bing Jiao, Korea’s An Se Young and nemesis Tai Tzu Ying from Chinese Taipei have exposed her weaknesses, which she will look to address ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
In the opening round, the former world champion will face the formidable Bing Jiao, who had shown her the door at the Indonesia Open Super 1000 last month.
Even though Sindhu lags 8-10 in head-to-head record against Bing Jiao, the Indian has defeated the Chinese three times in the last four meetings, including the Tokyo Olympics.
Axelsen defeats Momota to win Malaysia Open title
BAI secretary assures strict action against age-fudging
It was Tzu Ying, who had prevailed in three games against Sindhu last week, and a win in the first two rounds in this tournament is likely to put her face-to-face with the ace from Taiwan yet again, in the quarterfinals.
Prannoy, on the other hand, has made a mark every time he has taken the court this season.
With a series of quarterfinal finishes since the world championships last year, Prannoy has proved to be a tough competitor on the circuit, but a podium finish has eluded him.
As someone who has fashioned India’s epic Thomas Cup win in May, Prannoy has all the bearings of a champion, but he will need to ensure that he finds his best version against the top brass consistently to seize the moment.
The 29-year-old from Kerala, who had reached the semifinals at the Indonesia Super 1000, will meet Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren Rhustavito in his opener and is expected to come across the seventh seeded Indonesian Jonatan Christie next, who had ended his campaign last week.
Among other Indians, B Sai Praneeth, who has been struggling with his form since the Tokyo Games, will meet Kevin Cordon of Guatemala in the opening round, while Sameer Verma, who is making a comeback from injury, is pitted against fourth seeded Taiwanese Chou Tien Chen.
Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Saina Nehwal, who failed to cross the opening hurdle last week, is pitted against Kim Ga Eun of Korea.
In the doubles, the CWG-bound women’s pairing of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand will meet Malaysian combination of Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan, while former CWG bronze medallists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy begins against a qualifying pair.