Indonesia Masters 2021: PV Sindhu aims for podium finish as Saina Nehwal pulls out due to injury
The 2019 World Championship in Switzerland was Sindhu's last title.
Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu will continue her quest for a podium finish when she spearheads India's challenge at the Indonesia Masters Super 750 tournament but compatriots Saina Nehwal and Sameer Verma will be missing in action after deciding to pull out of the tournament due to injuries.
Sindhu, who had claimed a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics to go with her Rio silver medal, reached the quarter-finals and semi-finals at Denmark and France before skipping the Hylo Open in Germany.
The 2019 World Championship in Switzerland was Sindhu's last title. She reached the final at the Swiss Open early this year but it ended with a loss.
The third-seeded Indian, however, has good memories of Indonesia as she had reached the finals at Jakarta two years back and will look to make a good start when she faces Thailand's Supanida Katethong in the opener.
Sindhu is likely to cross swords with Spain's Clara Azurmendi and Canada's sixth seed Michelle Li in the next two rounds and a clash against top-seeded Japanese Akane Yamaguchi could be on the cards in the semi-finals if she can cross the initial rounds.
Saina, the London Olympics bronze-medallist, and Sameer, who looked in good touch in the last two events, will miss the Indonesia leg to recover from their respective injuries.
While Saina had suffered a groin injury at Uber Cup, Sameer had injured his calf muscle in Denmark.
All eyes this week will also be on Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen, who had reached the semi-finals of Hylo Open.
While Srikanth seemed close to regaining his form, Lakshya too has looked in good touch in his last few outings. The duo will look to continue the good run when they begin their men's singles campaign.
Lakshya will meet Japan's Kanta Tsuneyama in his opening round, while Srikanth faces a qualifier after Sameer pulled out.
Tokyo Olympian B Sai Praneeth will take on Indonesia's Shesar Hiren Rhustavito, while HS Prannoy is pitted against sixth-seeded Indonesian Jonatan Christie in his opener.
Parupalli Kashyap will square off against Denmark's Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus.
In men's doubles competition, sixth seeds Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will lock horns with Malaysia's Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi, while the fast-rising pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila will battle it out against the Japanese combination of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi.
The women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will take on Denmark's Alexandra Boje and Mette Poulsen.
In mixed doubles, Ashwini has paired up with B Sumeeth Reddy and Sikki will partner Dhruv Kapila.
Another Indian player, double specialist Dhruv Rawat, also tested positive for the virus.
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