New Delhi: A large Indian contingent led by top shuttlers Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu will be vying for honours in the toughest India Open Super Series yet, which commences at the Siri Fort Sports Complex today.
Chief coach Pullela Gopichand affirmed that this edition of the country's premier badminton tournament, with increased prize money of USD250,000, will be a challenge as all the Indians have been handed out tough draws.
"All top players are playing. It is the toughest India Open we have had. But if we have to face tough competition then we better face it in our own conditions," the All-England champion said.
Unlike previous editions, all top Chinese players have confirmed their entries, said Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Akhilesh Das Gupta.
The nation's best bet, World No 8 Saina is the only Indian to be seeded, eighth, in the April 1-6 tournament.
The Hyderabadi faces an easy women's singles opener against Austrian Simone Prutsch and is expected to ease into the quarters.
However, she will likely take on former World Champion Yihan Wang of China in the last eight clash.
Saina's compatriot World No 9 Sindhu will be up against second seed and World No 3 Shixian Wang of China in the opener. But the 18-year-old Hyderabadi can take confidence from her 3-0 record over the Chinese, the latest at the Swiss Open quarterfinals.
In men's singles, defending champion and World No 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia will be the main attraction as the top seed.
Parupalli Kashyap, Sourabh Varma, RMV Gurusaidutt, B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth, Anand Pawar and HS Prannoy are the Indians in the main men's draw.
Riding the crest of success in international badminton, India's top ranked male shuttler Kidambi Srikanth is eyeing medals in team championships and breaking into the top-10 of world rankings this year. After winning his maiden title in Thailand Grand Prix Gold last year, Srikanth became the best ranked Indian player in international badminton within 10 months.