Badminton Asia Championships: Lakshya could face Momota; tricky draw for Sindhu

Lakshya Sen is ready to be catapulted into the national spotlight after reaching the final of the 2022 All England Championship Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

The Badminton Asia Championships are set to begin in Manila, the Philippines on Tuesday after a two-year delay due to the Covid 19 pandemic. India is fielding a full-strength contingent for the Asian Championships headlined by World Championship medallists Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen as well as former world champion PV Sindhu in singles. The trio, along with the men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are seeded entries from India and are the nation's medal favourites.

HS Prannoy pulled out of the event on Tuesday due to an injury that he sustained during his runner-up finish at the Swiss Open.

Here's a look at the draw for Indians in action:

Lakshya Sen

Sen, the highest Indian seed in men's singles at No 5, is placed in the same quarter as top seed and two-time defending champion Kento Momota of Japan. Sen will open his campaign against China's Li Shi Feng, who is ranked 65 but can be an early threat given his good junior record. Sen leads their head-to-head record 3-1, having beaten Feng at the 2019 Polish Open. In the next round, he will face one of Wang Tzu Wei or Aidil Sholeh. Based on current form, a win over Momota seems possible should the match-up take place in the quarters. The 20-year-old Indian is coming off wins at the India Open Super 500 and runner-up finishes at the German Open and All England Championships while the Japanese has not been in the same form that saw him win to back-to-back titles at this event in 2018 and 2019.

Kidambi Srikanth

Srikanth, seeded seventh, is drawn to play Malaysia's Ng Tze Yong in the first round, which will be their first meeting. The other seed in his section is second seed and Tokyo bronze medallist Anthony Ginting, who would be among the favourites from this quarter.

B Sai Praneeth

Unseeded Sai Praneeth has the toughest draw among the Indians in men's singles, playing fourth seed Jonatan Christie in the first round. They have a 2-2 record and if Sai Praneeth manages to pull off an upset, he will play either Heo Kwanghee or Liew Daren with world champion Loh Kean Yew the other seed in his section.

PV Sindhu

In the women's singles, PV Sindhu is the only seeded Indian at No 4. She will start her campaign against Pai Yu Po of Chinese Taipei, against whom she has a 3-1 record. Next in her path will be either Yue Yann Jaslyn Hooi or qualifier Lee Seojin. The other seeded player in her path is No 5 He Bing Jiao of China, who will make a tough quarter-final opponent given her pedigree and current form. The Indian has won two Super 300 events (Syed Modi International and Swiss Open) this year and will be looking to grab a big title in the year of the Asian Games. Sindhu will be in Manila without her regular coach Park Tae-sang, who is on annual leave, and will have the services of Vidhi Chaudhary instead.

Akarshi Kashyap

Akarshi Kashyap faces the unenviable task of taking on top seed and defending champion Akane Yamaguchi in the opener. The two have never faced each other on the BWF Tour yet. The 20-year-old is coming off a successful selection trial in India last week, where she won seven out of seven singles matches to make the Indian team for the Commonwealth and Asian Games as the No 2 player after Sindhu. If she manages a stunning upset, she will face either Han Yue of China or a qualifier Komang Ayu Cahya Dwwi.

Saina Nehwal

Veteran Saina Nehwal, who skipped last week's trials to focus on rest and recovery, will open her campaign against Sim Yujin (first meeting.) If she progresses, she could be up against seventh seed Busanan Ongbamrungphan.

Malvika Bansod

Malvika Bansod, the fourth Indian in this draw, opens against Yeo Jia Min (first meeting) and can run into eighth seed Sayaka Takahashi in the next round. The 20-year-old missed the cut for the Asian Games and Thomas & Uber Cup at the selection trials and will be keen to make a mark here.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty

In doubles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are seeded third and will start their campaign against Apiluk Gaterahong and Natchanon Tulamok. Their path is much tougher with a potential second-round clash against All England Open champions Maulana Bagas and Muhammad Shohibul Fikri. The fifth-seeded duo of Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik is the other seeded pair in the section.

Among the women, India were hit by two withdrawals. The fast-rising pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, who won the recent selection trials to make it to the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Uber Cup as well as the seeded pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy withdrew due to injury.

The other Indian doubles pairs in action include Dhruv Kapila-Arjun MR, Manu Attri-Sumeet Reddy, Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala (men) Ashwini Bhatt and Shikha Gautam, Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker (women) as well as Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto, Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan (mixed doubles).