Jakarta (PTI): India will be fielding its biggest and strongest team at the World Badminton Championships in Indonesia, providing them their best chance of winning medals at the prestigious tournament next month.
It is for the first time that India will have two players within the top 5 — Saina Nehwal (World No 2) and Kidambi Srikanth (World No 3) as they lead the Indian charge at the Championship which gets underway at Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta from August 10.
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa had ended India’s 28-year-old medal drought at the World Championship when they won the women’s doubles bronze in 2011 and then singles player P V Sindhu clinched the bronze medal twice in 2013 and 2014 editions.
However, a medal at the world meet has eluded Olympic bronze medallist Saina, who has not progressed beyond reaching the quarterfinals five times.
The 25-year-old got a bye in the first round and will start her campaign in the second round, taking on the winner of the match between Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi and Kati Tolmoff of Estonia.
Second seed Saina, who won the Syed Modi GPG and India Super Series this season, is likely to take on 14th seed Sayaka Takahashi of Japan in the prequarterfinals. If she can cross the hurdle, it is likely to be a battle against formidable sixth seed Wang Yihan of China.
In the men’s singles, third seed Srikanth, who won two titles this season at Swiss Open and India Super Series, will face Michael Fariman of Australia in the first round, while Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, seeded 10th, will square up against Erik Meijs of The Netherlands.
Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold winner H S Prannoy, seeded 11th, who was out of action because of a foot injury, will make a comeback at the event with a match against Alex Yuwan Tjong of Brazil.
Sindhu, who had a difficult season marred by injury and poor form, got a bye in the opening round and will take on the winner of the match between Denmark’s Line Kjaersfeldt and Irish Chloe Magee in the second round. A win will put her against the former world no 1 Li Xuerui of China.
Indian men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who reached the finals of US Open Grand Prix Gold last month, will meet Chinese combo of Cai Yun and Lu Kai, while Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar will face Russian pair of Nikita Khakimov and Vasily Kuznetsov in the opening round.
Seeded 13th, Jwala and Ashwini, who won Canada Open last month, also got a bye in the first round. The Glasgow Games silver medallists will meet the winner of opening round match between Canadian pair of Alex Bruce and Phyllis Chan and Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Pei Chen and Wu Ti Jung in women’s doubles.
In other women’s doubles matches, Pradnya Gadre and N Sikki Reddy will lock horns with German pair of Isabel Herttrich and Birgit Michels, while young pair of Dhanya Nair and Mohita Sahdev will take on French combo of Delphine Lansac and Emilie Lefel.
In mixed doubles, Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan will take on Evgenij Dremin and Evgenia Dimova of Russia, while Kona Tarun and N Sikki Reddy will fight it out against Liao Min Chun and Chen Hsiao Huan of Chinese Taipei.
There are no qualification rounds at the Championships. Only top 50 players in the world are eligible to participate.