Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth get favourable draws at Denmark Open
Nehwal and Srikanth headline India’s challenge as international badminton returns after six months.
World No. 20 Saina Nehwal, the only Indian women’s player at Denmark, faces France’s Yaelle Hoyaux, ranked 135th, in the first round of the women’s singles.
Kidambi Srikanth, No. 14 in the world rankings, will take on Englishman Toby Penty, ranked 52nd, in the men’s singles. Srikanth could potentially face compatriot Subhankar Dey in the second round.
Fifth seed Kidambi Srikanth, who won the Denmark Open in 2017, however currently sits 22nd in the ‘Race to Tokyo’ rankings and has to be in the top-16 to make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics.
Though the Super 750 event will not give him any ranking points to move up the order, the 27-year-old Srikanth is eager to get back to playing in match conditions.
"I'm really looking forward to playing in Denmark. It's been six months since my last competition and I've never had that long a gap between tournaments,” Srikanth told ESPN.
“I'm not going to Denmark thinking the points don't count. Whether they count or not, I still want to win,” he said.
Srikanth is one of six Indian badminton players in the men’s singles. Rising star Lakshya Sen faces Frenchman Christo Popov while veterans Ajay Jayaram and Parupalli Kashyap play Anders Antonsen and Koki Watanabe respectively.
It will be a unique situation for all players, having to adhere to strict protocols and bio bubbles and Kashyap seemed wary of the situation.
“We are just happy to play. I wonder how the arrangements will be there,” Kashyap told The New Indian Express.
“We'll be playing in a competitive environment after a long time and we need to come back to that mentality. It is going to be tough playing any match," reckoned Subhankar Dey.
Indian badminton players’ Denmark Open draw
Saina Nehwal vs Yaelle Hoyaux
Koki Watanabe vs Parupalli Kashyap
Lakshya Sen vs Christo Popov
Ajay Jayaram vs Anders Antonsen
Subhankar Dey vs Jason Anthony Ho-Shue
Toby Penty vs Kidambi Srikanth