Thailand Open preview: Sat-Chi return, no Prannoy as Indians look for another good week

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. How Foo Yeen/Getty Images

After putting up a good show at the Malaysia Masters 2023, Indian badminton players will look to continue with consistency at the Thailand Open, starting with the qualifiers on Tuesday. This is the second in the five straight weeks of top-flight action on the BWF Tour marking the start of Olympic qualification cycle and the field here is more open than other tournaments as players look to manage workload.

The Super 500 tournament in Bangkok marks the return of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who have now risen to a career high ranking of world No 4. Saina Nehwal has also been listed in the draw after a long injury layoff.

In singles, India have a relatively larger representation lead by top guns PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen and boosted by a number of qualifiers.

HS Prannoy, who won his first BWF World title at Malaysia Masters on Sunday, was not slated to play this week given back-to-back events; a move that is even more important now after his gruelling victories last week.

Here's a detailed look at Indians' draw and chances at Thailand Open 2023:

Men's singles

Lakshya Sen vs. Wang Tzu Wei

Kidambi Srikanth vs. Weng Hong Yang

Priyanshu Rajawat vs. NG Tze Yong

Sai Praneeth vs. Christo Popov

Mithun Manjunath vs. Kunlavut Vitidsarn

Sameer Verma vs. Magnus Johannsen

Kiran George vs. Shi Yu Qi

Srikanth, who reached the quarterfinal last week after a solid win against eighth seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn, starts against Malaysia Masters finallist Weng Hong Yang of China (1-1 H2H). A win will see him likely play third-seeded Chinese Shi Yu Qi, who starts against Indian qualifier Kiran George.

Lakshya, who went down in the second round last week, will open against Wang Tzu Wei (1-1 H2H) and could run into fourth seed and All England champion Li Shi Feng next.

Priyanshu Rajawat, who won the Orleans Open in April, finds himself in the Super 500 main draw and will start against Ng Tze Yong. He has a 0-2 record against the Malaysia and if he wins, will likely face top seed Chou Tien Chen.

B Sai Praneeth and Mithun Manjunath were both promoted from reserves and start against Christo Popov (H2H 1-1) and second seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn (H2H 1-1) respectively.

Sameer Verma and Kiran George came through qualifying and will take on Magnus Johannesen, who he has never played before, and third seed Shi Yu Qi respectively.

Women's singles

PV Sindhu vs. Michelle Li

Saina Nehwal vs. Wen Yu Zhang

Malvika Bansod vs. Ashmita Chaliha

Sindhu, who reached the semi-final last week before a lopsided loss, is no longer seeded in the draws as her ranking has caught up. She takes on Canada's Michelle Li in the opening round who she has a 9-2 record against her.

A win will pit her against China's sixth seed Wang Zhi Yi, who she has beaten the two times they have played in the past. Sindhu will look for another deep run to regain momentum and get valuable points to be back among the seeds.

Saina Nehwal is present in an updated draw after a long time, and it set to meet a qualifier Wen Yu Zhang of Canada in the first round (first meeting). If she wins, she will likely play third seed He Bing Jiao.

Malvika Bansod was promoted from reserves and will have to take on another Indian in the first round, Ashmita Chaliha who made it through qualifying after beating compatriot Unnati Hooda.

Men's doubles

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty vs. Rasmus Kjaer and Frederik Sogaard

The big story for India is in men's doubles where Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are the No 1 seeds. They withdrew from the Malaysia Masters last week and will be playing their first tournament of the Olympic cycle (after Sudirman Cup).

They start against Denmark's Rasmus Kjaer and Frederik Sogaard (first meeting) and are slated to meet Indonesia's Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana (3-0 lead) and later Olympic champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin in the quarters. The last match between both the pairs was called off after Wang got injured in the decider.

Earlier, Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala were listed as withdrawals.

Women's doubles

Ashwini Bhat K and Shikha Gautam vs. Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee

Only one Indian pair in the fray in women's doubles after top-ranked Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly didn't sign up for a second straight week. Ashwini and Shikha have a tough draw, taking on third seeds and Malaysia Masters champions Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee in the first round.

Mixed doubles

There will be no Indian pair in mixed doubles.

Thailand Open Super 500 will be available to watch on BWF's YouTube channel.