Jakarta: In probably the best chance to grab multiple medals, an 18-member Indian badminton contingent led by ace shuttler Saina Nehwal will vie for honours at the 22nd edition of the World Championships to be held at the 9,000-seater Istora Senayan here from August 10 to 16.
This will also be Saina’s golden opportunity to grab a medal at the Worlds which has eluded the Olympic bronze medallist ever since she started participating at the annual contest in 2009. The 25-year-old has always exited the event at the quarterfinals stage the five times she has taken part in it.
The Hyderabadi has been seeded second in women’s singles this time behind defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain. Saina, who has got a first round bye here, has had a good run this year winning the India Grand Prix Gold, the India Open Super Series and also reaching the finals of the All England Open.
Compatriot P.V. Sindhu, who is the most successful Indian at the global event, won two bronze medals in 2013 and 2014. This year, however, she will find the going tough, despite having being seeded 11th and receiving a first round bye, as her 2015 season has been injury marred.
Kidambi Srikanth, meanwhile, has been seeded third in men’s singles and will be facing Australian Michael Fariman in the opener. The 22-year-old has had a strong year, winning the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold and India Open Super Series titles which has helped him maintain his World No.3 spot. He also reached the finals of the India Grand Prix Gold where he lost to compatriot Parupalli Kashyap.
Reigning Commonwealth Games champion Kashyap on the other hand has been seeded 10th and will take on Dutch Erik Meijs first up. Though he has beaten top players regularly, failure to win Super Series events has irked his career. However, a medal here will certainly be a big plus in his resume.
Right behind Kashyap in the seedings is H.S. Prannoy at 11 who will open his campaign against Brazil’s Alex Tjong.
In doubles competition, the two men’s pairs of Pranaav Chopra-Akshay Dewalkar and Manu Attri-B. Sumeeth Reddy will be seen in action. While Chopra and Dewalkar will open against Russian Vasily Kuznetsov and Nikita Khakimov, Attri and Reddy will start against Chinese combine of Cai Yun and Lu Kai.
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will once again be looking to repeat their women’s doubles bronze medal-winning performance of 2011. They are only Indian doubles pair to be seeded at 13 and have got a first round bye. The combinations of Pradnya Gadre-N. Sikki Reddy and Dhanya Nair-Mohita Sahdev will also take part in the category.
Sikki will then join hands with Tarun Kona in mixed doubles and the two will also be accompanied by multiple time national champions Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan.
The seedings are based on rankings as of July 23. This is the third time the Indonesian capital is hosting the tournament after 1980 and 1989.
India have won only four bronzes till date at the Worlds. The first time was in 1983 when the legendary Prakash Padukone clinched the metal. India had to wait 28 years before Jwala and Ashwini broke the deadlock to take the medal in 2011. Thereafter, Sindhu won two consecutive medals in 2013 and 2014.
Men’s singles: Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, H.S. Prannoy
Women’s singles: Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu
Men’s doubles: Pranaav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar, Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy
Women’s doubles: Pradnya Gadre and N. Sikki Reddy, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, Dhanya Nair and Mohita Sahdev
Mixed doubles: Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan, Tarun Kona and N. Sikki Reddy