PV Sindhu may run into nemesis Nozomi Okuhara at Japan Open badminton
PV Sindhu will be the cynosure of all eyes as she will take the court at Japan Open badminton against local player Minatsu Mitani and a win will pit her against Nozomi Okuhara.Updated: Sep 18, 2017 20:03 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
With the Korea Open title in her kitty, PV Sindhu will now shift her focus to the $325,000 Japan Open, the eighth Superseries tournament on the calendar that commences at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Tuesday.
Having made two finals in the last one month, PV Sindhu will be the cynosure of all eyes as she will take the court against local player Minatsu Mitani.
Though the Japanese lost to PV Sindhu in the quarter-finals in Seoul last week, she cannot be taken lightly at any cost. Minatsu was out of action for three months until Korea Open but the Japanese player knows how to win Superseries and Grand Prix tournaments, having done so in the past. Interestingly, she had also claimed the bronze at the 2014 World Championships along with Sindhu.
But on the positive side, fourth seed Sindhu has form and momentum with her after claiming silver at the Worlds in Glasgow and then winning the crown in Seoul on Sunday --- her third Superseries title. To add to it, the World No 4 Indian has a 2-1 record against the World No 19 Minatsu.
If PV Sindhu moves ahead, she might run into another Japanese, the unseeded Nozomi Okuhara, for the third time in as many tournaments. The duo have shared quite a bit of time together on court and are 4-4 in career meetings, which also includes their last two epic meetings --- with the Worlds final going in favour of Nozomi and Korea Open to Sindhu.
SAINA NEHWAL RETURNS
On the other hand, Saina Nehwal will return to action after her bronze-medal winning campaign at the World Championships. The former World No 1 will open against Pornpawee Chochuwong, against whom the Indian has a 2-0 record.
If the London Olympic Games bronze medallist moves past the Thai girl, Saina Nehwal will face old nemesis and reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the second round.
Seeded fifth here, Marin, the former world champion from Spain, will be looking to exert her dominance and win her fourth match against Saina in eight meetings. This could also be their first meeting in 2017.
If Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu progress further against all odds, then we could have the two Pullela Gopichand proteges facing each other at the semi-final stage.
UPHILL TASK FOR VERMA
Meanwhile, in men’s singles, Sourabh Verma faces an uphill task against two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China. If the five-time world champion progresses, he will take on another Indian in B. Sai Praneeth, who won the Singapore Open Superseries in April and will face a qualifier in his opener.
Ace shuttler Kidambi Srikanth, who was on a roll after winning two back-to-back Superseries titles earlier this year, will face a big challenge in the form of world No 10 Tian Houwei, who has a 6-1 record against the Indian.
If Srikanth manages to beat his Chinese opponent, he will be up against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia, who clinched the Korea Open crown on Sunday.
HS Prannoy and Sameer Verma will also return to action and will be up against Danish Anders Antonsen and a qualifier, respectively.
In doubles, Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy (men), Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy (women) and Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki have managed direct qualification for the main draw.
First Published: Sep 18, 2017 18:37 IST