HYDERABAD: PV Sindhu will be the cynosure at the Japan Open Super Series meet which kicks off in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Having beaten most top-10 players, save Saina Nehwal and two others, over the last year, and capped that run with a bronze medal at the World Championships, Sindhu is on the threshold of breaking into the big league. The list of her scalps includes reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui, Asian Games champion Shixian Wang, All England champion Tine Baun and former world champion Yihan Wang.
The 18-year-old, however, was found wanting in the two IBL matches she played against Saina. The way she struggled against Saina, that too after drubbing top stars like Juliane Schenk and Tine, surprised many, but coach Pullela Gopichand dismissed it as lack of experience.
“Of course Saina is a great player and played quite well on those two days. But I am not worried, I am still learning,” Sindhu said.
Asked if she approached Gopichand on how to beat Saina, Sindhu smiled, “No, no, I didn’t ask him nor did he tell me anything. He knows how to take care of both of us and I just follow his instructions. But on those two days, he didn’t tell me anything.”
The lanky lass, however, need not worry about her senior during the Japan Open. She will face qualifiers in the first two rounds before possibly running into Li Xuerui. The Chinese Olympic champion, who lost in the semifinals of the Chinese Masters last week, will be keen to make up for that loss. Tanvi Lad is the other Indian in women’s singles.
Top ranked men’s singles Parupalli Kashyap had pulled out at the eleventh hour and that withdrawal helped Kidambi Srikanth to make it to the main draw.
Srikanth, the first and the only Indian to clinch a Grand Prix Gold title outside India, runs into Sho Sasaki in the first round. The Japanese shuttler is nicknamed as showstopper for his ability to stun several fancied opponents and Srikanth will need to come up with his best against Sasaki. With many of the top shuttlers featuring in the tournament the draw is quite tough for Indians.
The qualifiers will be held on Tuesday while the main draw begins on Wednesday.