PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth will restart quest for first title of season in pre-Olympic year

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PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth will be aiming for consistency as they begin their campaign at the Korea Open. However, the tournament has lost some of its shine due to the withdrawal of key players, including Lakshya Sen.

Sindhu has yet to win a title this season despite more than half of the season being over. Since returning from a five-month injury lay-off due to a stress fracture on her ankle, she has struggled to put together a series of wins in a week. Her best finish this season was reaching the final of the Madrid Spain Masters. She also showed promise by reaching the semifinals of the Canada Open, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the US Open by China’s Gao Fang Jie.

In the Super 500 tournament, Sindhu, currently ranked 12th in the world, will have to bounce back quickly from her recent loss when she faces Chinese Taipei’s Pai Yu Po. A positive result could potentially set up a match against China’s Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei. With new coach Muhammad Hafiz Hashim, a former All England champion, accompanying her, Sindhu will be hoping to find her form in the Olympic qualification period.

Srikanth, the silver medallist at the 2021 World Championships, has had mixed results this season, reaching the quarterfinals at the Spain Masters, Malaysia Masters, and Indonesia Open. He will be looking to perform well this week as he faces Japan’s Kento Momota in his opening match after training with his new coach Wiempie Mahardi of Indonesia.

While Sindhu and Srikanth have struggled to secure titles, Lakshya Sen and HS Prannoy have managed to claim Super 500 crowns at the Canada and Malaysia Opens this year. However, Sen will not be participating in the Korea Open, while Prannoy, seeded fifth, will be hoping to maintain his good form as he faces Belgium’s Julien Carraggi.

In the men’s doubles, all eyes will be on Indonesia Open champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty as they take on Thailand’s Supak Jomkoh and Kittinupong Kedren. The Indian pair, seeded third, has been in sensational form this season and will be among the favorites to win the title.

The singles draw will also feature other Indian players such as Orleans Masters champion Priyanshu Rajawat, national champion Mithun Manjunath, and 2022 Odisha Open winner Kiran George. Rajawat will face a qualifier, Mithun will compete against Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong, and Kiran will square off against Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei.

In the women’s singles, Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod face tough challenges against China’s Zhang Yi Man and Olympic silver medallist Tai Tzu Ying, respectively.

Several players withdrew from the women’s draw, leading to the promotion of Ashmita Chaliha, Tasnim Mir, and Tanya Hemanth to the main draw. Meanwhile, the men’s doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala withdrew, but MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila will still compete against the eighth seeded Chinese pair of Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand have received a walkover in the first round against Bulgarian sisters Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva. They will face the second seeded Korean pair of Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee in the second round.

However, Tanisha Crasto and Ashwini Ponnappa, as well as the Panda sisters Rutaparna and Swetaparna, withdrew from the tournament at the last moment.

In the mixed doubles competition, N Sikki Reddy will team up with Rohan Kapoor, while Ashwini Ponnappa will pair up with B Sumeeth Reddy in their respective matches.

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