After two weeks of Premier Badminton League (PBL), Indian shuttlers will now look to begin the gruelling new season on a positive note when they start their campaign at the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold.
Two-time World Championship silver-medallist, P V Sindhu and 2014 China Open winner K Srikanth, who starred for Chennai Smashers and Bengaluru Top Guns respectively at the PBL, will be the star shuttlers from India who will be title contenders in the women’s and men’s singles events.
Injuries and poor form marred the last season for Sindhu but the Indian showed signs of recovery when she clinched the Macau Open for the third time in November and also stayed unbeaten in the PBL.
The World No. 12 will take on Switzerland’s Sabrina Jaquet in the opening match of the new season at the Spice stadium here.
World No. 9 Srikanth, however, had a gradual downward slide last year as he started with a win at Swiss Open and India Super Series but lost his form in the second half and made too many early exits.
His campaign at PBL was also inconsistent but the Indian will look to hit the right notes when he starts the new season against Wei Feng Chong of Malaysia in his opening match in Malaysia.
Ajay Jayaram recovered a lot of ground last year as he bounced back from a long injury lay-off to win the Dutch Open and also the silver at the Korea Super Series besides a good run at PBL for Delhi Acers.
The Mumbai shuttler, who is currently World No. 21, will look to put his best foot forward when he clashes with Japan’s Takuma Ueda, hoping to make an early impression in his bid to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Among other men’s singles player, Sameer Verma and B Sai Praneeth will also look to bring their best to the table when they take on Japan’s Sho Sasaki and a qualifier respectively tomorrow.
The 21-year-old Sameer showed promise last year by winning the TATA Open India Challenge and also clinched successive titles at Bahrain. However, Praneeth had a difficult year as he hovered around 30s in World ranking.
Another men’s singles player Subhankar Dey will also be in action when he takes Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand in the first round.
2010 Commonwealth Games champion, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa too will look to start the new year on a winning note when they clash against the local pair of Mei Kuan Chow and Lee Meng Yean.