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    In-form Sindhu, Lakshya to lead Indian challenge in Korea Open

    India’s Lakshya Sen won the first round of the Korea Open Badminton Championship. Lakshya defeated Ji Hoon Choi of Korea in a three-set match.

    In the first set, the target fell 14-21, but in the subsequent sets, the target won 21-16, 21-18. The match lasted for 62 minutes.

    India’s latest badminton sensation Lakshya Sen and double Olympic medallist P V Sindhu will lead the Indian campaign at the Korea Open Super 500 tournament starting on Tuesday. With back-to-back finals at German Open and All England Championships, Sen is is in the form of his life and will look to be third time lucky as he opens his campaign against world number 25 Lu Guang Zu of China. It will not, however, be an easy outing for Sen as the men’s singles draw boasts of some tough competitors such as the Indonesian duo of Anthony Ginting (top seed) and Jonatan Christie (third seed), world champion and fourth seed Loh Kean Yew, second seeded Malaysian Lee Zii Jia and the formidable Thai Kunlavut Vitidsarn, seeded eighth.

    Sen, the world championships bronze medallist, had scooped his maiden Super 500 crown at the India Open in January before making two final appearances and he will be keen to lift the second title of the season. Sindhu, on the other hand, claimed two Super 300 titles this season at Syed Modi International and Swiss Open and the third seeded Indian will look to continue her fine run when she begins against USA’s Lauren Lam. Aya Ohori is likely to be her next opponent, while two wins will put her face-to- face with either left-handed Supanida Katethong or Busanan Ongbamrungphan — both from Thailand. London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal has looked a pale shadow of her usual self in the past one year and a half and the Indian will be hoping to put up a better show when she begins against Japan’s Asuka Takahashi.

    Among all the Indian shuttlers, if there is one who has shown tremendous grit in the face of adversity is H S Prannoy, who battled against multiple health issues to make his first final in three years at Swiss Open. Though it ended with a narrow defeat, Prannoy, a former top 10 player, will be keen to unleash his ‘beast’ mode on the court once again when he opens against Cheam June Wei of Malaysia. World Championships silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth, seeded fifth, also has been playing well but he has struggled to finish close matches and that aspect would be high on his mind when he begins his campaign, against Malaysia’s Liew Daren.

    Kiran George too has been making small strides and the Odisha Open Super 100 trophy remains his best performance and he would look to go deep in the draw when he opens against Korea’s Lee Dong Keun. In women’s singles, Syed Modi finalist Malvika Bansod will face Han Yue, while Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli will have an uphill task against second seed Korean An Seyoung in the first round. In doubles, the men’s pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, seeded third, will be the top Indians to look out for as the duo claimed the India Open in January. Fast rising MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, mixed pairing of B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa, and N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini too will be in the fray.


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