The All England Badminton Championship is a prestigious tournament that is held for the last 105 years. It has starts today in Birmingham, England. In this year’s edition fifteen Indians are participating in the tournament. It is not an easy task for an Indian to win this tournament because best players from all countries around the World participate. The tournament has 39 winners from England, 21 from China, 14 from Denmark, 12 from United States. The only winner from India in this tournament was Prakash Padukone in 1980 and Pulliela Gopichand in 2001 after gap of 21 years. The closest performance was from Saina Nehwal who won the bronze medal in women’s singles in 2013.
In the current year top Indians challenge include Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kahsyap and Kadimbi Srikanth. India challenge will be only in singles, as no doubles combination is worth moving beyond 1-2 rounds.
Women’s Singles: Olympic bronze medalist Saina will take on a qualifier in the first round of the Super series Premier event on Wednesday. She is expected to sail into the quarterfinals as again a qualifier will be her challenger in the second round too. Her likely opponent in the last eight will be former World champion Wang Yihan of China. Though Yihan has dropped to fifth place in the rankings, she is a tough competitor. Pressure of carrying the Indian hopes in the women’s singles is high on the World No.3 as two-time World Championships bronze medalist Ms. Sindhu has withdrawn due to stress fracture on her left foot. Olympic champion Li Xuerui and former World No.1 and defending champion Shixian Wang are gearing up to stop the Indian progress into Finals.
Men’s Singles In the men’s singles competition, World No.5 Srikanth will face a wily opponent in World No. 14 Kento Momota of Japan. Both have equal share of glory in the four career meetings. Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap will also have a tough task at hand in the first round. The World No.12 will meet World No.7 Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei. World No. 18 H. S. Prannoy will face French Brice Leverdez. Anand Pawar and Ajay Jayaram will aim to qualify to the main round on Tuesday.
Women’s doubles: In the women’s doubles, 2011 World Championships bronze medal-winning Indian pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will face Malaysian team of Amelia Alicia Anscelly and Fie Cho Soong. They are unlikely to move much forward.
Men’s doubles: In the men’s doubles, Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy will be up against the Indonesian pair of Gideon Markus Fernaldi and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo. D. Guru Prasad and Venkatesh Prasad will test themselves in the qualifying round, so are S. Sanjeeth and Jagadish Yadav.
Mixed doubles: In the mixed doubles event, Indo-Russian combination of Ponnappa and Vladimir Ivanov will face the Danish pair of Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak.
In any case the tournament provides and interesting contest and good games to glue to the TV. Let’s watch if any of the Indians can go the distance and bring medals for the country.