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Japan Open 2023: Satwik-Chirag pair eyes another title; focus on Sindhu, Prannoy

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will look to follow their Korea Open triumph while focus will also be on PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy in the Japan Open Super 750 tournament, beginning on Tuesday.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games-winning Indian doubles pair of Satwik-Chirag on Sunday stunned world No. 1 pair of Fajar Alfian and Muhamad Rian Ardianto in a hard-fought final to extend their winning streak to 10 matches.

The third-seeded Indians, who have won the Swiss Open, Asian Championships and Indonesia Open this year, face Leo Rolly Carnando-Daniel Marthin of Indonesia in the opening round.

Two-time Olympic medallist and former world champion Sindhu has been struggling to find form post her injury rehab and has dropped to world No. 17 following her first-round exits in six of the 12 BWF World Tour events this year.

READ – Chirag believes combining with Satwik to be ‘one of his career defining moments’

The latest was in Korean Open last week where she lost to lower-ranked Pai Yu-Po under the guidance of her new coach Muhammad Hafiz Hashim, the 2003 All-England champion.

Sindhu’s opening round hurdle will be Zhang Yi Man, against whom the Indian won in the Malaysian Open quarters, en route to her semifinal finish in May this year. Sindhu has a 2-2 win-loss record against the 20th ranked Chinese.

Sindhu is likely to be up against Tai Tzu Ying, who has beaten the Indian nine times in a row in recent past in her 19-5 win-loss record, in the second round.

Prannoy, who won his maiden BWF World Tour title at the Malaysia Masters in May, remained India’s top-ranked player but dropped two spots to 10th.

Prannoy, who lost in the second round at the Korea Open last week, is seeded eighth and pitted against unseeded Li Shi Feng of China.

Kidambi Srikanth is up against Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei. If they overcome their respective opening-round hurdles, Prannoy and Srikanth will clash in the battle for the quarterfinals where either of the them may face top-seeded Viktor Axelsen.

The tournament will also mark the return of Lakshya Sen, who took a break and skipped Korea Open after winning the Canada Open earlier this month.

Upcoming youngster Priyanshu Rajawat and Sen are up against each other in an all-Indian opening round clash.

Should Sen get past Rajawat, he may face a tough test in second-seeded Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia in the next round.

Malavika Bansod is pitted against local challenger Aya Ohori, while Aakarshi Kashyap will face top-seeded Akane Yamaguchi in the women’s singles opening round.

Among other Indians in the fray, M R Arjun and Dhruv Kapila will square up against fourth-seeded Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik of Malaysia in the men’s doubles.

In the women’s doubles, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games bronze medal winning pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand will take on local favourites Sayaka Hobara and Yui Suizu.

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