With the 2012 London Olympic qualification period starting from May 1, the inaugural India Open Super Series tournament would provide the top shuttlers a chance to put their best foot forward before the big year ahead.
The tournament will be an added incentive for world number four Saina Nehwal, who is looking for her maiden Super Series title this year. Although the new status of the India Open and the $200,000 prize money has attracted 200 players from 16 countries, Saina remains the strong favourite in the women’s singles and has been given the top billing in the tournament. The year did not start on the right note for Saina, who won three Super Series crowns last year. She had to skip a few major tournaments but showed that she was getting back to her best with the Swiss Open title in March.
Chief national coach and Saina’s mentor Pullela Gopichand was confident that his protégée could go all the way again. “Her ligament injury has healed, but she is putting on the straps as a precaution.” he said.
She will open her campaign against Japanese Ai Goto. Once the first hurdle is crossed, she is likely to face her next challenge in the quarters where she will meet Eriko Hirose of Japan. Hirose had beaten Saina in the All England Championship but the 21-year-old was quick to avenge her loss at the Swiss Open.
The tournament won’t feature any Chinese players as the Asian championship is underway in their own country. The absence of top Chinese shuttlers like world No.1 Wang Shixian and second ranked Wang Yihan of China, may give other shuttlers a chance to shine.
However Malaysia’s world No.1 Lee Chong Wei as well as world no.3 Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia will be seen vying for the men’s singles title. The 28 year old Wei, who recently won the All-England, is considered the top favorite in the absence of his arch-rival Lin Dan, the world No.2 from China.
Among the Indians, world number 21 P Kashyap will be up against Michal Matejka of Slovakia in the first match, while RMV Gurusai Dutt and Ajay Jayaram will face 4th seed Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand and top seed Chong Wei. Other Indians
In women’s doubles, Aparna Balan and Prajakta Sawant will take on Jung Kyung and Eun Kim Ha Na of Korea in the first round. In men's doubles, eighth seeds Indians Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas have got a bye in the first round.
Fans can book their tickets www.bookmyshow.com. They can also call at 39895050 or buy it from 10 designated outlets of Café Coffee Day across the National Capital Region. Tickets would be available near gate No. 3 of the Complex. The prices will range from R 200 to 300 for qualification rounds and R 500 to 1,000 for knockout rounds.
Anup, Trupti through
Anup Sridhar entered the main draw along with Sourabh Verma, HS Prannoy and Sai Praneeth. In women’s singles, Trupti Murgunde, Sayali Gokhale and PV Sindhu made the cut.