INDIA OPEN: Covid threat looms as top shuttlers get ready to take court

New Delhi, January 10

Star India shuttlers PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth will look to carry on the momentum from last season and make winning starts to the new year when they begin their campaign at the India Open, which returns after being cancelled twice due to the pandemic.

A lot of ranking points will be up for grabs at the $400,000 Super 500 tournament being held in the looming shadow of a raging third wave in the country with cases doubling.

Top shuttler B Sai Praneeth and doubles player Dhruv Rawat have already pulled out after testing positive in the pre-departure testing. Another men’s doubles player Manu Attri, who formed the fifth-seeded pair with his partner B Sumeeth Reddy, also pulled out today after his RT-PCR test came positive.

“I had a cough and tested positive yesterday. I have withdrawn from the event today. I have to see how it affects my health and if I can play Syed Modi next week,” Attri said.

Country’s top doubles player Chirag Shetty, however, was cleared to play after testing negative. His RT-PCR report had shown positive result on Sunday. He along with his partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, are seeded second and will open against compatriots Ravi and Chirag Arora.

Despite the spectre of Covid, many top Indian and foreign players have turned up for the year’s first event. — PTI

Loh hoping to start new year with bang

New Delhi: Reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew wishes to start the year on a high. Loh, who beat Kidambi Srikanth in the final of the BWF World Championships last month, wants to keep his winning momentum going. “There are a lot of good players here, and it is not going to be an easy competition for sure. I want to win this tournament,” Loh, who is drawn to play Canada’s Xiaodong Sheng in his opening round match tomorrow, said. The fifth-seeded Loh knows that he is marked man after winning the World Championships and said it is very hard in professional sport to maintain winning form. “I ended the year on a high so it was a good year. You cannot win all the time. The pressure is always there. I just hope that I can play the best and I can perform,” he said. TNS

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