As though the news of newly-crowned India Open champions Lakshya Sen and the men’s duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty pulling out of the $150,000 Syed Modi International badminton tournament was not disappointing enough, K. Srikanth, Saina Nehwal, Ashwini Ponnappa joined the long list of withdrawals late on Monday.
After a long managers’ meeting in Lucknow on the eve of the event, it came to light that P. V. Sindhu was the only top seed left in the draw across five events.
As a result, when the tournament commences at the Babu Banarasi Das Stadium on Tuesday, most draws will resemble a National championship, with a different name.
The men’s and women’s singles draws were the worst hit. With the top three seeds Srikanth, Lakshya, B. Sai Praneeth, in addition to P. Kashyap and Canada’s Brian Yang, seeded six and eight, staying away, fourth seed Sameer Verma is the favourite to regain the title. His main challengers will be H. S. Prannoy and elder sibling Sourabh Verma, seeded five and seven.
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Similarly, in the women’s singles, Sindhu, Evgeniya Kosetskaya (Russia) and Supanida Katethong (Thailand), seeded one, five and six, are the survivors from the original list of seeds. Seeds two to four – Canada’s Li Michelle, Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min and Saina – along with Iris Wang (USA) and Jordan Hart (Poland), seeded seven and eight, are the main absentees.
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Sindhu, an overwhelming favourite in such a depleted field, is likely to get an opportunity to avenge the recent loss suffered to India Open finalist Supanida.
Similarly, four seeded pairs headed by Satwik and Shetty are out of the men’s doubles draw. Even in women’s doubles, favourite Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy head the list of four missing seeds.
Ashwini, like Srikanth, tested positive for Covid in Delhi last week.
In mixed doubles, top seeded Russians Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova led the withdrawals of three seeds.