Swiss Open: Sindhu, Saina may face off in semis; all eyes on Chirag-Satwik
Reigning world champion PV Sindhu will be eager to return to the podium as former winner Saina Nehwal looks to regain her touch in the season-opening Swiss Open tournament beginning here on Tuesday.
Indian men's singles players, too, have tasted success in this tournament with Sameer Verma, HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth emerging victorious in 2018, 2016 and 2015 respectively and B Sai Praneeth finishing runners-up in the last edition.
All four will be looking to relive the moments and extend India's good run at the USD 140,000 event which will also resume the extended Olympic qualifying period.
It was here at St. Jakobshalle venue that Olympic silver medallist Sindhu had claimed the world championship gold in 2019, her last title before the COVID-19 pandemic disruption.
The 25-year-old from Hyderabad seeded second will look to go the distance again as she opens her campaign against Turkey's Neslihan Yigit.
Sindhu didn't have a good outing in the three events in Thailand recently but the road to the quarterfinal here looks smooth for the Indian where she is likely to confront fifth seed Thai Busanan Ongbamrungphan, an opponent she had beaten at the Toyota Thailand Open in January.
Two-time former winner Saina, too, is in the same half but the senior pro will have to overcome players like Korea's sixth seed Sung Ji Hyun and fourth-seeded Danish Mia Blichfeldt -- whom she is likely to meet -- to set up a semifinal face-off with Sindhu.
Former world number one Saina, who turns 31 this month, is at the fag end of an illustrious career, having slipped to 19 in the BWF rankings but she still has the hunger to make it to another Olympics.
The London bronze medallist will hope to make a positive start when she opens against Thailand's Phittayaporn Chaiwan, a former world junior championships bronze medallist.
All eyes will also be on world number 10 men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty after their semifinal finish at Toyota Thailand Open.
The Indian pair, seeded second, would look to stretch its good run, especially after a month-long training session under new doubles coach Mathias Boe of Denmark.
The Indian duo will face Scotland's Christopher Grimley and Matthew Grimley in the opening round.
Expectations will be high from Satwik and Ashwini Ponnappa as well after their last-four finish at the previous event. But it will be an uphill climb for the duo as it faces second seeds Indonesians Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja first up.
In the men's singles, it will be an all-Indian show when Sameer takes on former world number one Kidambi Srikanth in the opening round.
While Sameer looked good at Toyota Thailand Open, Srikanth too seemed to have found his rhythm at the World Tour Finals in January.
It will be a battle of nerves as both have lost a lot of matches from winning positions in their career.
Former world number eight HS Prannoy will open against Mark Calijouw of the Netherlands, while Sourabh Verma takes on Switzerland's Christian Kirchmayr.
Ajay Jayaram will meet Thailand's Sitthikom Thammasin and Parupalli Kashyap will square off against Spain's Pablo Abian.
Olympic hopeful Praneeth, who was forced to withdraw from the last event in Thailand after returning positive for COVID-19, will hope to shine when he clashes with Israel's Misha Zilberman.
Young Lakshya Sen, who missed the Thailand events due to an injury, too will be rearing to go when he opens against Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk.
Among other Indians in the fray, Pranaav Jerry Chopra, who had tested positive for COVID late last year, will be back in action after a long hiatus when he pairs up with N Sikki Reddy and takes on third-seeded English pair of Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith in the mixed doubles.
Young men's doubles pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila too will look to put up a show when the Indians face Russia's seventh seeds Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov.
The Super 300 event will be crucial for the Olympic hopefuls with the BWF extending the qualification period for the Tokyo Games till June 15.This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.