PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth will be the only two Indian shuttlers in action at the BWF World Tour Finals, starting January 27 in Bangkok. The season-ending tournament is the third successive event to be held in Thailand after the two Super 1000 tournaments.
All eyes will be on PV Sindhu as the reigning world champion has had a disappointing start to the Asian leg of the BWF Tour. Sindhu returned to competitive action for the first time since the sport was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sindhu was ousted as early as the first round in first of the two Super 1000 events in Thailand and she suffered a quarter-final exit last week in Bangkok. It was disappointing to see a one-sided contest in the last-8 round as Sindhu surrendered to home star Ratchanok Intanon.
Questions will be asked of Sindhu as she had left the national camp last year to work on body analysis and nutrition in London. Sindhu will be keen on proving her doubters wrong and the upcoming World Tour Finals provides her with an immediate opportunity.
Sindhu is known for stepping up in the big tournaments and it can’t get bigger than the Tour Finals at the start of the season. However, the World No. 7 is not going to have it easy in the 8-woman field.
Sindhu has been drawn in Group B of women’s singles field alongside in-form Tai Tzu Ying, Intanon and lower-ranked Pornpawee Chochuwong. Sindhu will have difficult encounters against Tai, who finished as runner-up in both the Super 1000 events, and Intanon against whom she lost last week.
In the round-robin format, Sindhu needs to win at least two games to seal a berth in the semi-final. The 2018 champion did not make the knockout stages last year but she will be hoping to reverse her fortunes at the season-ending tournament.
Women’s singles Draw BWF Tour Finals
Group A – Carolina Marin (Spain), An Se Young (South Korea), Michelle Li (Canada), Evgeniya Kosetskeya (Russia)
Group B – Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei), Ratchanok Intanton (Thailand), Pornpawee Chochuwong (Thailand), PV Sindhu (India)
Can Kidambi Srikanth return to top form?
In the men’s singles field, Kidambi Srikanth will be the lone Indian representative. The Indian shuttler looked in good rhythm on the court in both the Thailand Open events but he was not able to progress beyond the first round in either of the two tournaments.
Srikanth, the world No. 14, began his campaign in Bangkok with a straight-game win over Sourabh Verma but pulled out of the 2nd round due to a groin injury. In the second tournament, Srikanth began with a thumping win over local shuttler Sitthikom Thammasin but was forced to withdraw after his roommate Sai Praneeth tested positive for Covid-19.
Srikanth was directed to be in hotel quarantine for a period of 14 days but the Badminton Association of India stepped in to have his quarantine period reduced to 7 days. Srikanth will be back in action in the World Tour Final but it remains to be seen if the shuttler can return to top gear sooner than later.
Srikanth has been drawn in men’s singles Group B alongside in-form Anderson Antonsen, Ng Ka Long and Wang Tzu Wei.
Men’s singles draw – BWF World Tour FInals
Group A: Viktor Axelsen (Denmark), Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei), Lee Zii Jia (Malaysia), Anthony Ginting (Indonesia)
Group B: Anders Antonsen (Denmark), Wang Tzu Wei (Chinese Taipei), Kidambi Srikanth (India), Ng Ka Long (Hong Kong)