Top shuttlers PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth would be aiming for a great finale to what has been a good year for Indian badminton when they take the court at the $1 million Dubai Super Series Final starting on Wednesday.
Only the very best participate in this prestigious tournament with only the top eight in the respective men’s and women’s singles rankings earning the right to compete.
World No. 3 Sindhu and World No. 4 Srikanth can’t afford to lower their guard when they begin their campaign against China’s world No. 9 Hi Bingjiao and World No.1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark respectively at the Sheikh Hamdan Indoor Stadium.
Both Sindhu and Srikanth are coming into the tournament after a highly successful year.
Sindhu clinched the India Open and Korea Open, besides bagging a silver at Glasgow World Championship and finishing runners-up at Hong Kong Open last month.
Srikanth, on the other hand, became the only Indian, and fourth player ever, to win four Super Series titles in a calendar.
He won the Indonesia Open, Australia Open, Denmark Open and the French Open before being forced to miss the China Open and Hong Kong Open owing to a thigh muscle strain, sustained at the Nationals in Nagpur last month.
The one-month break after the Nationals gave him ample time to work on his fitness and sharpen his game, and he will hope to recreate the magic that earned him the four titles this year.”It is an important event. I reached the semis in 2014 and in 2015; I lost in the league stages but it doesn’t matter. We, as players, have to forget what had happened and start afresh. I hope to do well this year,” Srikanth said.
World No.4 Srikanth has been placed in Group B of men’s singles event along with Chou Tien Chen (world No.7) and Shi Yuqi (world No.8), apart from Axelsen.
Sindhu, who had reached the semifinals at the last edition, has been clubbed with the Japanese duo of No. 2 ranked Akane Yamaguchi and world No. 15 Sayako Sato, besides Bingjiao in Group A.
“It has been a good year for me. Now I really hope the year ends on a good note and I do well at the Dubai Super Series Finals,” said the 22-year-old from Hyderabad.
“It is not going to be easy as all the top players will be playing in this event. Each match from the first round itself will be very tough. So I will have to be prepared from the start to do well.”
The four players in each group will compete against each other in the preliminaries. The top two from each group will qualify for the semi-finals with A1 facing B2 and B1 taking on A2.
Srikanth broke his three-match losing streak against defending champion and World No.1 Axelsen when he defeated the Dane in his hometown during the Denmark Open quarterfinals in October and it would take another top-class performance to tame him on Wednesday.
Sindhu is 4-5 behind in the head-to-head count against Bingjiao but she will take confidence from her recent win against the Chinese at the Korea Open in September.