The Indian badminton contingent will be eager to put in a better performance from the one that they dished out at the Malaysia Masters when they take the court for the Indonesia Masters Super 500 event that begins in Jakarta from January 13.
While world champion P V Sindhu and Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal looked impressive in their quarter-final run in Kuala Lumpur last week, the men's singles stars were unable to impress and crashed out in the early stages. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics just a few months away, gaining form and momentum is of utmost importance, and it thus becomes imperative that the sports stars polish off their existing flaws so that they can walk into the event with confidence.
Sindhu and Saina will once again lead the women's singles charge in Indonesia, with the former meeting Aya Ohori of Japan in the first round. Sindhu had managed to defeat the player in the second round meeting last week and will hold the upper hand in the clash, while Nehwal too is expected to have it easy against another Japanese, Sayaka Takahashi.
If the two manage to win their respective first-round matches, they will face off against each other in the second round, a match-up that is keenly awaited. Though in form, Sindhu looks likely to prevail, she has an inferior 1-3 win-loss record against her compatriot Nehwal. Her last loss against Nehwal came in the finals of the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast.
In the men's singles event, Kidambi Srikanth, who lost in the first round in Malaysia, will face off against Shesar Hiren Rhustavito of Indonesia, while World Championship bronze medal winner Sai Praneeth will be up against eighth seed Shi Yu Qi of China. Praneeth too had failed to cross the first round hurdle in the Malaysia Masters.
Another badminton star to exit in the first round of Malaysia Masters, Parupalli Kashyap, will open against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia. H S Prannoy, who had managed to reach Round 2 in Malaysia but went down to World Number 1 Kento Momota - also Kashyap's opponent in Round 1 - will face local boy Jonatan Christie.
The other Indian in the fray in the men's singles event will be Sameer Verma who had lost to Malaysian Lee Zii Jia in the second round last week. He will play legendary Tommy Sugiarto in the first round in what is likely to be a tough encounter.
The men's doubles team of Satwiksairaj Reddy and Chirag Shetty will meet the Indonesia pair of Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan, the second seeds, in their opening round, while the women's doubles duo of Ashwini Ponappa and Sikki Reddy will square off against Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida of Japan. Ponappa will also pair up with Satwik in the mixed doubles, taking on Sam Magee and Chloe Magee of Ireland. Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki, on the other hand, will play a qualifier in their opening mixed doubles round.