Sindhu, Srikanth carry India’s hopes at Denmark Open

Odense: Title-contenders P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth would look to put behind the disappointment of an early exit from Japan Open and make a positive start to their campaign at the USD 750,000 Denmark Open Super Series Premier, which begins here tomorrow.

Rio Olympics and World Championship silver medallist Sindhu have been in rampaging form this season as she has already bagged two titles at the India Open and Korea Open respectively.

After a gruelling week at Seoul last month, she couldn’t sustain the intensity and suffered a second-round defeat against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara — an opponent she had some fierce battles recently — at the Japan Open at Tokyo.

The second seeded Indian, however, will be fresh after a three week training and would look to make amends when she opens her campaign against World No. 10 China’s Chen Yufei, a rival she had beaten in the World Championship in August.

Chinese seventh seed He Bingjiao is likely to stand in Sindhu’s way to the semi-finals. The left-handed Chinese has a 5-4 record against Sindhu even though the Indian had beaten her at Korea Open.

Slowly finding her foot back after battling her way through a career-threatening injury last year, Saina Nehwal will be looking for her first super series win in 16 months. She had won the Australia Open last year in June, 2016 before a knee injury derailed her Rio Olympics dream.

The World No. 12 bagged a bronze at the World Championship but she lost to Carolina Marin at the Japan Open in the second round and the Indian will be itching for a revenge when she faces the fifth seeded Spaniard in the opening round here.

The duo are locked 4-4 in head-to-head count but the last time Saina had beaten Marin was at the 2015 Dubai World Superseries Finals. The Indian has lost twice in straight games to Marin in the last two meetings and she would need a determined effort to get across the newly-crowned Japan Open champion.

In men’s singles, Srikanth starts as hot favourite after his three back-to-back final appearances out of which he won two titles at Indonesia and Australia.

The World No. 8 had two creditable quarterfinal finishes at Glasgow World Championship and Japan Open and he would be looking for another title after he opens his campaign against a qualifier.

If Srikanth can cross the first two rounds, a familiar foe in World Champion and local favourite Viktor Axelsen might be waiting for him at the quarters.

Among other Indians in fray, B Sai Praneeth and H S Prannoy have showed that they are no pushovers after their good run this season.

While Praneeth clinched his maiden Super Series title at Singapore beating Srikanth in the final, Prannoy bagged the US Open Grand Prix Gold title besides creating a flutter after dumping heavyweights Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and China’s Chen Long in Indonesia Open.

Prannoy and Praneeth will look to put their best foot forward when they face Denmark’s Emil Holst and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus respectively in the opening round.

Sameer Verma, who won the Syed Modi Grad Prix Gold, will take on a qualifier and is expected to clash with Axelsen in the second round.

Indian men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are also in the fray.

Women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will also look for a good outing, while Satwiksairaj and Ashwini, who reached the mixed doubles semifinals at Dutch Open Grand Prix last week, also will look to continue their good run.

Tomorrow, Commonwealth Games champion P Kashyap, who reached the finals at US Open, will open his campaign against Denmark’s Victor Svendsen, while Subhankar Dey faces another local shuttler Kim Bruun in men’s singles qualifiers.

In women’s singles, Anura Prabhudesai will lock horns with Denmark’s Irina Amalie Andersen.

In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy will face Ireland’s Sam Magee and Chloe Magee in the main draw tomorrow.