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All eyes on PV Sindhu as Japan Open begins

Newly-crowned Korea Open champion, P V Sindhu will take aim at a third Super Series title this season even as Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal return to action at the USD 325,000 Japan Open starting with the qualifiers on Tuesday.

Sindhu, who had dropped the second game before defeating Minatsu Mitani last week in the Korea Open, will once again take on the Japanese in the opening round this week.

The 22-year-old Hyderabadi yesterday avenged her World Championship heartbreak by beating Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in a pulsating summit clash of Korea Open to claim her second super series title of the season.

Sindhu might meet world champion Okuhara for the third straight tournament if she can get past Mitani and the Japanese does the same against Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi in their respective openers.

World No. 8 Srikanth, who clinched the Indonesia Super Series premier and Australia Super Series, will face a tricky customer in China’s World No 10 Tian Houwei in the opening round.

Srikanth, who had also reached the final at Singapore Open, has lost six times to Houwei in their seven meetings and five of those matches have gone into the decider.

Glasgow World Championship bronze medallist Saina, who had a slight thigh strain, will return to action with a clash with Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong, an opponent she had defeated in the finals en route to the Malaysia Masters title early this year.

Unseeded Saina might clash with two-time former world champion and reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the second round if the Spaniard can get across China’s Chen Xiaoxin.

Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap will look to continue his battle to get back to the top when he plays the qualifiers against Denmark’s Emil Holst.

In the main draw of men’s singles, H S Prannoy, B Sai Praneeth and Verma brothers — Sameer and Sourabh — will also look to put their best foot forward.

US Open champion Prannoy will face Denmark’s Anders Antonsen, while Praneeth and Sameer will square off against qualifiers but Sourabh will have the arduous task of getting across the legendary Lin Dan in the opening round.

Mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy will meet fifth seeded Thai pair of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai in the opening round, while Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki will try to overcome Korean third seeded combo of Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee.

In the qualifying round, Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy will face Malaysian combo of Jian Yi Lee and Zhen Ting Lim, while Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who had reached their maiden Super Series quarterfinals at Korea last week, take on the local pair of Hirokatsu Hashimoto and Hiroyuki Saeki in men’s doubles.

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