In the absence of Saina and Kashyap, PV Sindhu to hold court

PV SindhuPV Sindhu is slated to run into qualifiers — unknown quantities — in her two opening rounds, before she runs into Chinese Olympic champ Xuerui Li (not as unbeatable as she seemed last year), possibly, in the quarters. (PTI)

India's shining star PV Sindhu isn't the only one chipping away at Chinese dominance these last few months, for as many as five Thais and three Japanese are poised in the Top 20 of women's singles in Badminton World Federation's world rankings, waiting to jostle the high-ranked girls from badminton's superpower and shaking up the world order.

When Sindhu returns to the international circuit after an indifferent IBL at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymansium for the Japan Open Super Series starting Tuesday, it is this bunch of highly motivated upstarts that she will need to be wary of, as the World Championship bronze medallist has gone from being an underdog scalping the big Chinese in sensational upsets to a marked opponent targetted by the restless and ever-improving Thais and Chinese, in just one month.

With Saina Nehwal deciding to skip Tokyo to recover from the wear and tear of the IBL, Sindhu will lead the Indian challenge and negotiate the minefield that might seem a cakewalk upto the quarters, but can prove severely tricky. She's slated to run into qualifiers — unknown quantities — in her two opening rounds, before she runs into Chinese Olympic champ Xuerui Li (not as unbeatable as she seemed last year), possibly, in the quarters. Thai Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and Japanese Sayaka Takahashi were the surprise semi-finalists at the China Masters this last week, and the throng of locals crowding the main draw in Japan will pose enough questions to the established names, Sindhu even.

Sindhu aside, Tanvi Lad, ranked No.77 in the world, enters her toughest tourney yet, and will play Japanese World No.20 Sayaka Takahashi in her opening round, and will know where she stands on the international level even as she strives to adjust to the higher gear and pace of the east Asians.

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