Tricky draw for Saina in French Open

Sajith B Warrier

Paris, October 22: Indian badminton stars, including defending champion Kidambi Srikanth, P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal have their task cut out after being handed tricky draws in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) sanctioned French Open that begins on Tuesday.

World number 10 Saina, who did well to the reach the Denmark Open final before losing to nemesis and top-ranked Tai Tzu Ying, and Srikanth, a semifinalist in the same event, have very little time to recover after a hectic last week.

World number three Sindhu will be fresher, having made an unexpected first round exit in Odense.

Besides Srikanth, the other Indians in the men's singles draw are B Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma. Verma had lost a marathon battle against Srikanth in the quarterfinals of Denmark Open.

Ashwini Ponnappa will be playing only mixed doubles this week, alongside Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.

It will take a special performance to win the BWF World Tour Super 750 Series event which features a high-quality field.

Tai Tzu and Kento Momota, who won in Denmark, will be title favourites again.

Momota could be challenged by the likes of Srikanth, Chen Long, Son Wan Ho, Viktor Axelsen and Shi Yuqi.

Srikanth faces world number 22 Wong Wing Ki Vincent (who beat him in Asian Games second round) in the first round, while Saina and Sindhu will take on 37th-ranked Saena Kawakami and 11th-ranked Beiwen Zhang respectively.

Zhang had beaten Sindhu in the opening round last week.

If Sindhu does get past Zhang, she could meet seventh seed He Bingjiao in the quarterfinals. With world and Olympic champion Carolina Marin pulling out of the tournament, world No 2 Akane Yamaguchi is the only other real challenger in her half.

If Saina beats Kawakami, the Indian could meet former world champion Nozomi Okuhara in the second round. Saina and Okuhara had played out a thrilling three-game match in Odense last week.

And if Saina proceeds further, she will end up playing Tai Tzu, who has been drawn in the same quarter.

(With inputs from PTI and other Agencies)

Also Read:

Denmark Open: Saina Nehwal in final, Kidambi Srikanth crashes out

Real Madrid on high alert as PSG could be forced to sell Mbappe or Neymar

Former French Open champion Schiavone calls it a day