PANAJI: Rio Olympics silver-medallist PV Sindhu believes she has a good draw going into the Tokyo Games but, making her second appearance, the ace Indian shuttler is aware about the tough competition of the quadrennial event and feels every point will be crucial, says a press release by Badminton Association of India.
“It’s a good draw in the group stage. The Hong Kong girl plays well and it’ll be a good match. Everybody is going to be in top form, I hope I do well. Every match is important so I will take it match by match. This is the Olympics and it is not going to be easy, each point is very important,” Sindhu said.
The 2019 world champion Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth will begin their campaign at the 2020 Olympic Games against the relatively lowly-ranked opponents in their respective singles group stages as the draws were announced on Thursday.
However, Indian pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy are expected to face a stiff challenge in the men’s doubles group stage as they are placed in the Group A alongside top-seed and World No. 1 Indonesian duo of Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, who also finished at the top in the Race to Tokyo standing, and World No. 3 Chinese Taipei pair of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin. England’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy are the fourth pair placed in Group A.
India’s doubles coach Mathias Boe is hopeful of getting good results. Talking about the draw, Boe said: “It’s a very even group which means even if you lose a match, you are still in the game because nobody knows what will happen. We’ll focus on preparing as much as possible in the last few weeks. We will attack on court and hopefully, we get good results. I am positive, it’s a good challenge for us.”
The World No. 7 Sindhu has been placed in Group J alongside World No. 34 Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi and World No. 58 Ksenia Polikarpova of Israel in the women’s singles. Sindhu has an all-win record against her group stage opponents Ngan Yi and Polikarpova in the five and two encounters played so far against them respectively. In men’s singles, World No. 15 Praneeth has been drawn into Group D alongside World No. 29 Mark Caljouw of Netherlands and World No, 47 Israeli shuttler Misha Zilberman.
“It’s a mixed draw, not so tough and not so good. I have to be 100 percent to win all matches and it will be a good match for me,” World Championships bronze-medallist Praneeth said.
“The roadmap is drawn, and this will give our players time to work specifically on the opponents and get prepared before they leave for Tokyo. I wish the entire contingent all the best,” BAI General Secretary, Ajay Singhania said.
Sindhu and Praneeth may square off against Japanese shuttlers world championship bronze medallist Akane Yamaguchi and World No. 1 and two-time world champion Kento Momota respectively in the quarter-finals stage.
In the singles category, 42 players are divided into 14 groups with each group consisting of three players and the top player from each group will qualify for the knockout stage. While in the doubles category, 16 pairs are divided into four groups and the top two pairs from each group will advance into the last-8 stage. Badminton matches will kick-start from July 24.
Having won medals in the last two editions of the Olympics with Saina Nehwal winning a bronze medal in 2012 and Sindhu clinching silver in 2016, Indian shuttlers will aim to complete a hat-trick of medals in Tokyo.