Home shuttlers are expected to dominate the India International Badminton Tournament which gets underway in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Taking into account the seedings, Indians are the overwhelming favourites for four of the five categories. The only exception being the mixed doubles, where the Korean pair of Peng Soon Chan and Chiou Hwee Haw are the top seeds.
World No. 26 Chetan Anand will spearhead the Indian challenge in the men’s section. And though two-time national champion Anup Sridhar has withdrawn due to injury, there are still four Indians among the seeds.
World number 46 P Kashyap, Nikhil Kanetkar, defending champion Thomas Kurian and last year's runners-up Anand Pawar are also in contention for the coveted title.
The foreign flavour will be provided by Denmark’s Peter Mikkelsen and Michael Christensen and South Korea’s Cheol Ho Lee.
However, all eyes will be on champion and top seed Saina Nehwal. The 16-year-old, fresh from her exploits at the Junior World championship in Korea, is expected to retain her title despite the presence of second seed Soo Young Jang of Korea and third seed Trupti Murgunde.
“I know everyone expects me to win,” Saina said on Tuesday.
“Yes, I am still a bit tired. But that will not stop me from playing in the top gear here. I am definitely going to give my best here and hope that everything goes well.” The Hyderabadi shuttler, who got a bye in the first round, will face the winner of Jui Agaskar and Nepal's Sara Devi Tamang in the second.
The organisers have given direct entry to all the foreign players in the main draw irrespective of their rankings.