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Thailand Masters: Indian shuttlers look to overcome dismal form

Thailand Masters: Indian shuttlers look to overcome dismal form

The Bridge Desk

Published: 20 Jan 2020 11:51 AM GMT

The Thailand Masters (officially known as the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters 2020) is an international badminton tournament held since 2016 in Thailand and is sponsored by Toyota. It is a BWF World Tour Super 300 tournament with a total purse of $1,70,000.

Organised by the Badminton Association of Thailand, the 2020 Thailand Masters tournament is set to commence from Tuesday, January 21 with the world’s best badminton players poised for glory at the Indoor Stadium Huamark in Bangkok, Thailand.

Image: Facebook / H S Prannoy

A Brief History

The Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) has been hosting the Thailand Masters tournament since 2016 with the sanction of the global body, Badminton World Federation (BWF). The event was upgraded to a Super 300 tournament after replacing the older structure of Grand Prix Gold. The total prize money for the first edition of the tournament was $120,000 until 2018 when it increased to US$150,000.

The first tournament was held in Bangkok with the host nation conceding the most number of wins across all four events, except for men’s singles and mixed doubles. So far, no Indian has clinched a Thailand Masters title.

Indian Contingent At The Thailand Masters

Several shuttlers are giving this tournament a miss as the dates clash with the much-awaited Premier Badminton League (PBL) commencing from January 20. Leading India’s charge in the men’s singles event are Kidambi Srikanth, Sameer Verma, and H.S. Prannoy. After World Championship gold medallist P V Sindhu decided to venture at PBL instead, Saina Nehwal is the only Indian woman to feature in the women’s singles event thus far.

Image: Twitter / BAI
Image: Twitter / BAI

In the mixed doubles qualification round – Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan will team up to try their luck at the Super 300 event. No Indian will be seen competing in men's doubles or women's doubles category.

2020 Thailand Masters Draw

Seeded fifth in the tournament, Saina Nehwal will kick off her campaign against Denmark’s Line Højmark Kjaersfeldt. Saina looks likely to prevail, courtesy career head-to-head 4-0 record against the Dane. If things go right, the former World No. 1 is expected to meet local star Ratchanok Intanon in the quarterfinal stage. With both Sindhu and Tai Tzu Ying having withdrawn from the tournament, Saina, otherwise embroiled in injuries and health issues, will look to step up in the occasion. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics just a few months away, gaining form and momentum is of utmost importance, and it thus becomes imperative that she polishes off her existing flaws so that she can walk into the event with confidence.

Image: Facebook / BAI

Moving over to the men’s singles event, a host of Indian stars are set to take the court at the Indoor Stadium Huamark. Kidambi Srikanth, who has decided to not take part in the fifth season of PBL in order to be fit and focussed ahead of the Olympics, has a tough task ahead of him as he has been drawn to face Shesar Hiren Rhustavito of Indonesia in the first round. He will try his best to overcome the first hurdle in order to be able to square off against 2019 Indonesia Masters champion Sun Fei Xiang in the second round. Srikanth is expected to rise above the challenges so as to pocket maximum points to be able to qualify for Tokyo Olympics with the cut-off qualification date coming to a close.

Among other Indians in the men’s singles fray, H S Prannoy will open against World No. 30 Daren Liew of Malaysia. With a 3-0 win-loss record to look back on, Prannoy will ply his trade to advance to the second round where he is likely to face the second seed Shi Yu Qi of China. Unseeded Sameer Verma, on the other hand, will clash with seventh seed Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia. Going by the record, the Chinese enjoys a 2-1 lead in his head-to-head record against Verma. Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan will lead the Indian challenge in the mixed doubles event, by playing Jomkoh Supak and Paewsampran Supissara of Thailand.

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