Australian Open: HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen set sight on 2nd title, Sindhu looks to regain form
With Satwik and Chirag pulling out of the event, Prannoy and Sen, the Canada Open champion, will be India's best bets for a title at the Australia Open.
Star Indian shuttlers PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth will look to rediscover their form as HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen set their sight on the second World Tour title of the season when they begin their campaign at the Australia Open Super 500 in Sydney, scheduled from August 1 to 6.
This will be the last chance for Indian shuttlers to fine tune their touch ahead of World Championships to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on August 21-27.
World no. 17 Sindhu, seeded fifth, has been struggling to get back her mojo since she returned to the court after sustaining an injury at the Commonwealth Games last year. Her best this season is a runner-up finish at the Madrid Spain Masters, a Super 300 event, where she lost to up-and-coming player Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia.
Sindhu, a former world champion, has made first-round exits in seven of her 13 BWF World Tour events. In the last two weeks, too, at the Korea Open and Japan Open, she went down in the opening round.
Sindhu has recently started training under Malaysian Muhammad Hafiz Hashim, the 2003 All-England champion, since she parted away with her previous coach South Korean Park Tae-Sang.
With back-to-back tournaments lined up this month, time is running out for the two-time Olympic medallist. Sindhu will open her campaign against compatriot Ashmita Chaliha. The only other times the two faced off were at the Senior Nationals Championships in 2019 and India Open in 2022. Though Ashmita had lost on both occasions, she did not go down without a fight.
Prannoy, Sen India's best bets
For India, HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen in men's doubles and the doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have been the most consistent performers this season. With Satwik and Chirag pulling out of the event, Prannoy and Sen, the Canada Open champion, will be India's best bets for a title at the Australia Open.
Prannoy is currently the best placed Indian singles player at ninth and has made three quarterfinals, besides claiming the Malaysia Masters Super 500 title. In the Japan Open quarterfinal, when he ran into world no. 1 Viktor Axelsen, Prannoy made the Dane frustrate with relentless fight back before going down in a three-setter. Likewise, Sen, too, had a close match, losing to Indonesia's world no. 9 Jonatan Christie in a three-setter.
Prannoy, seeded sixth in the tournament, will face world no. 15 Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong in the opening round, while Commonwealth Games champion Sen will play another fellow Indian Kiran George.
Srikanth, meanwhile, has been out of form for a while now. The former world no. 1 will have to bring down his errors when he takes on Japanese Kenta Nishimoto.
Youngster Priyanshu Rajawat, the Orleans Masters champion, will begin his campaign against local player Nathan Tang. Also in the fray is national champion Mithun Manjunath who will take on fourth seed Loh Kean Yew of Singapore in his opening-round fixture.
In men’s doubles, MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila will be the only Indian pair in the fray. Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, too, will hope to go deep into the women's doubles draw. Their last notable performance was a semifinal finish at the All England Open. Rohan Kapoor and N Sikki Reddy are in the fray in mixed doubles.
Among others, Aakarshi Kashyap will meet Goh Jin Wei of Malaysia, as Tasnim Mir faces Indonesia's Komang Ayu Cahya Dewi and Malvika Bansod crosses swords with Pai Yu Po of Chinese Taipei.