Sindhu looks to end title drought at Syed Modi International

PTI, Jan 17, 2022, 2:05 PM IST

Lucknow: Two-time Olympic medallist P V Sindhu will look to recover from her unexpected semifinal loss at the India Open and end her title drought at the Syed Modi International, which begins here on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old from Hyderabad was well on course to win her first title since the 2019 World Championship triumph last week before left-hander Supanida Katethong of Thailand shattered her hopes with a three-game win at the India Open.

Sindhu, who had finished runner-up at Swiss Open and World Tour Finals last year, will hope to turn things around this week when she begins her campaign against compatriot Tanya Hemanth.

The Indian will be itching to settle scores against Supanida, whom she is likely to face again at the semifinals at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium here.

Second seeded Canadian Michelle Li, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, will be one of the strong contenders for the title in women’s singles, which also has Polish eighth seed Jordan Hart, second seed Iris Wang of USA and Russia’s fifth seed Evgeniya Kosetskaya.

Men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty has decided to give the Super 300 tournament a miss after claiming their maiden India Open Super 500 crown.

Lakshya Sen, who secured his maiden Super 500 title at New Delhi on Sunday, also is likely to follow suit after playing continuously since October last year.

Among others, World Championships silver medallist and top seed Kidambi Srikanth also is unlikely to compete this week as he is undergoing seven-day mandatory quarantine after withdrawing from the main draw last week following a positive COVID-19 result.

Third seed B Sai Praneeth, who had pulled out of India Open after testing positive, is also awaiting a RT-PCR test result, while Ashwini Ponnappa and Manu Attri are yet to recover from the virus and will miss the tournament.

Ashwini is part of the top seeded women’s doubles pairing, while Manu and B Sumeeth Reddy are seeded third in the men’s doubles event. On a comeback trail, former top-10 player H S Prannoy gave a good account of himself before being stopped by 20-year-old Sen in the quarterfinals last week.

Fifth seed Prannoy will hope to go deep in the draw this week when he opens his campaign against Ukraine’s Danylo Bosniuk.

London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, seeded fourth, too will test her fitness when she takes on Czech Republic’s Tereza Švábíková in the opening round. She had lost in the second round last week.

There are a host of other Indians in men’s singles, such as seventh seed Sourabh Verma, fourth seed Sameer Verma — who he is still recovering from a calf muscle injury — Subhankar Dey and youngsters like Kiran George, Mithun Manjunath and Priyanshu Rajawat.

In women’s singles too, Aakarshi Kashyap, who had reached the quarterfinals last week, will look to continue her good run when she faces fellow Indian Mugdha Agrey in opening round.

Malvika Bansod and Ashmita Chaliha will be tied in a battle of supremacy in the opening round, while Samiya Imad Farooqui, Ira Sharma and Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli will be the other prominent Indians in action.

Fourth seeded Ashwini Bhat K and Shikha Gautam will look to put up a good show in women’s doubles.

There are likely to be more withdrawals and a clearer picture will emerge only after the manager’s meeting later in the day.

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