Of course, Saina Nehwal – the world number two – had put up a massive performance to become the country’s first woman singles player to reach the final of the All England Championships, the rest of her counterparts fell by the wayside pretty early in the tournament.
Kidambi Srikanth – the country’s top-ranked men’s singles player – was expected to progress at least till the business end of the All England Championships, but he came a cropper going down to Japan’s Kento Momota in three games with the world number four pulling one back in the second game. Of course, Srikanth made amends by winning the Swiss Open and is seeded second in the Indian Open (the only Indian men to be seeded), where he faces Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk in the first round.
Parupalli Kashyap was another guy, who was tipped to sail through the early rounds, but he was shown the tournament’s exit door by Chou Tien-Chen of Taiwan. Kashyap hardly offered any kind of fight and went tamely 13-21, 12-21 in the opening round.
The 13th ranked player will open his campaign in the Indian Open against Taiwan’s Hsu Jen Hao. Ajay Jayaramn will be high on confidence when he takes on Hong Kong’s Hu Yu in the first round after having risen eight places in the world rankings this week to 35, following a semifinal finish in the Swiss Open after his early exit in the All England Championships.
HS Pranoy, the lone Indian men’s singles player to cross the first round hurdle, faces Russia’s Misha Zilberman in the first round. World number 36 Sai Praneeth takes on Swiss Open runners-up Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the first round, while 51st ranked Anand Pawar takes on a qualifier in his round one match.
The damp squib of the men shuttlers were largely atoned for by Saina in the All England Championships – she will undoubtedly carry the biggest expectations from the Indian camp in the women’s singles with the likes of PC Thulasi, Saile Rane, Tanvi Lad looking to make an impression.