Tokyo Olympics: PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth draw tough opponents in knockouts

India’s PV Sindhu, gunning for her second successive medal, and B Sai Praneeth were handed a difficult draw and are slated to face tricky opponents in the knockout stages of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, starting on July 23.

In the draw conducted by Badminton World Federation on Thursday, the Indian men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty was clubbed in Group A with Indonesia’s world number one combination of Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon.

In women’s singles, sixth-seeded Sindhu is placed in Group J with Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong and Kesinia Polikarpova, a Russia-born Israeli player. Though the 26-year-old Indian may not break much sweat in topping her group, problems will start for her in the first knockout round, which is the Round of 16.

If things go as per seeding, she is likely to face Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt, who was ranked 11th in the world a couple of years ago, in the pre-quarter finals. Mia had sent Sindhu packing from the Thailand Open, beating her 21-16, 24-26, 13-21 in the opening round in January this year.

If Sindhu gets past the dangerous Dane, she may run into former world number one Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in the quarter-finals.

Things will be tricky for Sai Praneeth too, as he has been drawn in Group D and slated to face Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long Angus in Round of 16 and, if successful, will meet top seed and home favourite Kento Momota in the quarters.

For Shetty and Rankireddy, the world number one pair is not the only tough opponents in Group A. They also have to deal with a tricky pair in the form of Great Britain’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy.

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