New Delhi : India’s top-seeded Kidambi Srikanth was on Monday handed a competitive draw in the men’s singles section of the India Open 2022 badminton championship with a clash with reigning World Champion Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew, the fifth seed, lined up in the semi-finals.In the women’s singles, top seed and two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu starts favourite with Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan, the second seed, Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min and India’s Saina Nehwal as the other contenders. Sindhu will open her campaign on Tuesday against compatriot Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli, the 24-year-old semi-finalist at Polish Open 2021.Srikanth, the World Championships silver medallist, and World Champion Loh Kean Yew are in the same half of the draw. Srikanth will open his campaign against compatriot Siril Verma in the first round and run into Kim Bruun of Denmark in the second round if the Dane gets the better of Indian Shubhankar Dey. Up next for the 28-year-old from Hyderabad will be compatriot and sixth seed Sameer Verma upfront in the quarter-finals if things go as per the draw.
Loh Kean Yew, who beat Srikanth 21-15, 22-20 in the BWF World Championship final at Huelva, Spain, last month, starts his campaign against Canada’s Sheng Xiaodong in the first round. He has a comparatively easier path to the semis.In the absence of second seed B Sai Praneeth, who had to withdraw after testing Covid positive before leaving for New Delhi, 2021 World Championships bronze medallist Lakshya Sen has seventh seed Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia and compatriot H.S Prannoy, the eighth seed, as the twin threats in the bottom half of the 32-player draw. Lakshya could run into Prannoy in the quarter-finals and meet Sugiarto for a place in the final if things go as per the draw.Sindhu is likely to meet Russian fifth seed Evgeniya Kosetskaya in the quarters while third seed Yeo Jia Min is upfront in the semis.In the bottom half, Saina Nehwal, a former champion in this event, will start against Tereza Svabikova of the Czech Republic in the first round and will run into the second seed from Thailand if things go as per the seedings.Meanwhile, the Indian pair of Manu Atri and B Sumeeth Reddy have withdrawn from the men’s doubles draw after Manu Atri tested positive in a test conducted before they left their training base. Sumeeth Reddy had tested negative.