A rematch of the All England final between India's Saina Nehwal and world champion Carolina Marin is on the cards with the two stars given first and second seeding in the Yonex Sunrise India Open Superseries to be played from March 24.
Saina and Marin have already faced-off in two summit clashes this year with both sharing the spoils – the Indian winning in Syed Modi Grand Prix gold, while Marin came on top at the All England Championships.
Saina and Marin should cruise till the quarter-final stage where the former is likely to meet Pai Yu Po of Chinese Taipei, while Marin could take on sixth seed Okuhara Nozomi of Japan.
Before that, London Olympics bronze medallist Saina is scheduled to face off against a qualifier in the second round and has a likely meeting against national champion G Ruthvika Shivani in the second round. Marin, on the other hand, begins her campaign against India’s Rituparna Das.
The biggest hurdle to Saina’s march in the finals is likely to come from Xin Liu of China in the semi-finals, against whom the Indian ace enjoys a 2-0 head-to-head record.
The other last four stage encounter could see the current world champion face off against the player who wore that crown a year ago, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.
In the men’s singles draw, India's biggest hope and second seed K Srikanth has a tricky opener against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand and could meet his All England conqueror, Kento Momota of Japan, in the second round.
Third seed and five-time world champion Lin Dan has been placed in the top half and will open his campaign against Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Wei Wang.
Top seed Jan O Jorgensen will open his campaign against Japan’s Sho Sasaki but would be looking forward to the possibility of an all-Danish clash in the quarter-finals against former junior world champion and sixth seed Viktor Axelsen.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist P Kashyap will face Chinese Taipei’'s Hsu Jen Hao in the first round, while Indonesia GP Gold winner HS Prannoy takes on Israel's Misha Zilberman at the same stage.
In the paired events, defending men’s doubles champions Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen and mixed doubles holders Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen have been given the top billing.
The Danes would be facing a keen competition from Korean and Chinese shuttlers with the Indian fans hoping to watch national men's doubles champion Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy and 2011 world championship bronze medallist Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa.
Attri and Reddy, who upset the world number seven pair in the recently concluded All England championship, have a tough opener against second seed Kenichi Hayakawa and Hiroyuki Endo of Japan.
In the women’s doubles, Jwala and Ashwini have a tough task of getting the better of sixth seed Chinese pair of Ou Dongni and Xiaohan Yu.
Image: Saina Mirza
Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters