All England Open 2022: Sindhu with Yamaguchi test, Lakshya, Srikanth, Praneeth in a tricky draw
Indian shuttlers have been handed a tough draw at the All England Open Championships with Sindhu likely to meet Yamaguchi, Satwik-Chirag to clash against Minions in quarters.
The prestigious All England Open Badminton Championships 2022 released its draw on Tuesday and it does not translate to an easy road for Indian shuttlers competing at the event, as they have been handed a pretty tricky draw.
Scheduled to be held from 16th to 20th March in Birmingham, the BWF Super 1000 tournament will see India's top badminton stars like PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty all making headway for the mid-March event.
Sindhu with Yamaguchi threat
For one, 2-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu has put in the same group as arch-nemesis and reigning World Champion Akane Yamaguchi as well as fellow Indian and former World No. 1 shuttler Saina Nehwal in her half of the draw. While Sindhu can still breathe easy about Nehwal, given that she is still recovering from a couple of injuries, the Hyderabadi cannot take the challenge of Akane Yamaguchi, who she will most likely meet in the quarters, easily. Sindhu will have to take comfort in the fact that she had upset the Japanese in the previous edition of the All England Open.
Sindhu has drawn World No. 17, Wang Zhi Yi, for the first round and has the chance to face off against two left-handers potentially - Sayaka Takahashi or Supanida Katethong. Only recently, Thailand's Katethong gave Sindhu a tough time at the India Open when she defeated the former World Champion in a three-set battle. However, Sindhu did avenge that loss soon after at the Syed Modi Championships, which she went on to win. Meanwhile, Saina Nehwal has a tougher challenge as she will begin against World No. 10 youngster Pornpawee Chochuwong.
Lakshya, Kidambi, Praneeth with tricky opponents
Over to the Men's Singles half of things, for 2021 World Championships bronze and silver medallists Lakshya Sen and Kidambi Srikanth, respectively the All England Open draw isn't easy as well and they will have a lot of early challenges to overcome. For the 2019 World Championships bronze medallist B. Sai Praneeth as well, it will be extremely difficult to get past World No. 1 and reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen, who he is scheduled to open his campaign against.
What's more exciting is that World No. 3 Anders Antonsen will lock horns with World Champion and Singaporean sensation Loh Kean Yew in the first-round clash, following which the winner of it will take on none other than India's own star Lakshya Sen. The fireworks will take place quite early at the All England Open, it seems. The chance of seeing a re-match of the India Open final this soon is indeed too exciting. Lakshya has a relatively easy opener against fellow Indian player, Sourabh Verma.
On the other hand, former World No. 1 and in-form Kidambi Srikanth is placed in the same group as Axelsen and Praneeth. Once Axelsen overcomes the Praneeth challenge, he could face Sameer Verma in the next round. Srikanth will meanwhile take on the winner of Anthony Ginting and Parupalli Kashyap.
Satwik-Chirag with Minions woe again
Fresh off their India Open win, dynamic doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty will be opening against the Scottish pair of Alexander Dunn and Adam Hall. Following that, the chance of meeting with World No. 1 Kevin Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon a.k.a The Minions is heavy on the cards. The Indian pair of Satwik-Chirag are yet to win a single match against this Indonesian pair and it won't be any easier this time as well if they cross paths in the quarters. A chance also remains of an all-Indian clash in the second round if Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishunvardhan Goud Panjala come through in their opener.
On the other hand, Dhruv Kapila-MR Arjun will have to worry about The Daddies, that is, the pair of Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan, who finished as runners-up at the India Open only recently.
Coming to the Women's Doubles, the veteran Indian doubles duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will take on Japan's Kie Nakanishi and Rin Iwanaga in their first-round clash.
As far as Mixed Doubles goes, the pair of Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto will have some trouble to tame when they take on the World No. 5 Indonesian duo of Praveen Jordan and Melati Oktavianti in the opening round.