After the upset the Barclaycard Arena produced at the All England tournament, the India Superseries bandwagon is set to get on its wheels.
The India Superseries Open will begin from 29th March at New Delhi. With qualification for Rio 16’ in sight, there will be no letup in intensity because Superseries points are invaluable. Here’s a look into the leading events ahead of the prestigious event.
Lee Chong Wei will look to compensate after a dismal run at the All England Open.
Leading the contest will be Lee Chong Wei. Looking to put behind the first round upset to Sameer Verma in England, the 2 time Olympic silver medalist is the top seed in the absence of Chinese star Chen Long. The clear favourite though would be Lin Dan, fresh from a sixth All England title victory. The 4th seed seems in top form and he might as well be facing Kento Momota or Jorgensen from the other half of the draw in the finals. While Kashyap’s involvement is doubtful, Srikanth will be facing a tough first round against Tian Houwei. India’s best bet seems to be HS Prannoy. The rising star will have the momentum from his Swiss Open win and can go a long way with the home fans firmly behind him. Ajay Jayaram, Viktor Axelsen, Xue Song and Vittinghus are also in the fray. The men’s singles event should be an intriguing one.
Saina Nehwal will be the home favourite and look to regain the World No 1 position.
World No.2 Saina Nehwal seemed to be getting back into her groove as she reached the semis of the Swiss Open, but a lot more is expected of her. Having a relatively easy draw at the India Superseries Open, Saina will be expected to make it the semis before she runs into tough opposition. Looking to upset her title defence would be top seed Carolina Marin. Her campaign will be a difficult one, starting with a first round against crowd favourite PV Sindhu. All England winner Nozomi Okuhara and 4th Seed Ratchanok Intanon are in the same half, making life tough for the Spaniard. Chinese stars Wang Shixian and Li Xuerui cannot be discounted either, from Saina’s half of the draw. Going by recent results, the Delhi crowd might see a new women’s singles champion at the prestigious India Superseries.
Ivanov/Sozonov will also look to carry their good form forward.
Surprise winners in All England, Russians Ivanov/Sozonov would fancy their chances at the Sirifort Complex. At the India Superseries Open, they are in the same half as “The Mads” from Denmark and top seeds Chai Biao/Hong Wei from China. Frontrunners Hayakawa/Hiroyuki from Japan should have an easy path to the last four before a predicted clash with 2nd seeds Kim Sa Rung/Kim Gi Jung. The All England runners up though, are still the favourites. Manu Atri/Sumeeth Reddy, giant-killers on their day, could throw the tournament wide open with some upsets as they play in familiar conditions.
Defending Champions in Women’ Doubles Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo are on a roll. With the All England in their kitty, a repeat India Open victory will set them on the right path for the Rio Olympics. Looking to stop them would be Denmark’s Pedersen/Rytter Juhl. With stiff opposition from Zhao Yunlei and Tian Qing impending, the crowd favourites will have to be at their best to clinch the title. Top seeds Greysia Polii and Nitya Maheshwari can go all the way too, provided they remain fit and aggressive throughout the tournament. Realistically, Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa of India barely seem to have any chances of winning, but they would look to accumulate valuable qualification points.
Though seeded 5th, all bets will be placed on Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto taking home the mixed doubles title at Delhi. Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, the top seeds will the best bet to upset their apple cart though, with Fischer/Pedersen also looking to avenge their all England final loss to the Indonesians. Ko Sung/Kim Na will be the team the watch out for, looking to justify their second seeding at the India Superseries event.
With temperatures looking to soar in the Indian capital, this tournament will be a test of fitness. And also of not letting the pressure get to the heads. The fans are in for a treat.