With Saina Nehwal missing another event due to fitness issues, P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth will spearhead the Indian challenge at the USD 120,000 German Grand Prix Gold starting with the qualifiers here tomorrow.
World No 2 Saina, who had injured her ankle last year, is yet to play an international tournament this year as she is trying to achieve full fitness ahead of the prestigious All England championship.
In her absence, onus will be on Sindhu to lead India’s campaign in women’s singles.
Sindhu, who clinched the Malaysia Masters early in the year, has been going through a rough patch lately as she lost to young compatriot Ruthvika Shivani Gadde in the South Asian Games, before suffering losses to Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara and Korea’s Ji Hyun Sung in the Badminton Asia Championship.
The 20-year-old from Hyderabad, who had also bowed out in the second round of Syed Modi GPG after losing to Nitchaon Jindapol, will look to turn around things when she faces USA’s Rong Schafer in the opening round of the German Open.
On the other hand, Srikanth, who clinched the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow last month, has been in good form and guided the men’s team to a historic bronze medal in the Badminton Asia Championship.
The sixth seed Indian will have a tricky customer in Japan’s Takuma Ueda in the first round.
Among other Indians, young Sameer Verma will meet Ukraine Dmytro Zavadsky, 11th seed Parupalli Kashyap, making a comeback after recovering from multiple injuries, will face Ukraine’s Artem Pochtarev in his campaign-opener.
Ajay Jayaram, B Sai Praneeth and H S Prannoy have, however, withdrawn from the event.
In men’s doubles, Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy will look to have a good outing as the World No. 20 pair is racing against time to qualify for the Rio Olympics. They will take on the English combo of Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge in the first round.