Sydney, May 8 (IANS) In the absence of high profile shuttlers like P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth and Ashwini Ponnappa, B. Sai Praneeth and the men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy will lead India’s campaign at the Australian Open HSBC BWF World Tour Super 300 starting here on Wednesday.
After a busy April, which saw Indians going full throttle in the Commonwealth Games (CWG) and the Asian Championships, and keeping Thomas and Uber Cup in mind, several big names pulled out of the tournament, which has become a low-key affair in the transformed professional badminton circuit.
From last edition’s total prize money of $750,000, this year’s tournament saw a drop of $600,000 in prize money.
However, the withdrawls of the big players will offer chances to other players to make most of the limelight.
Manu-Sumeeth have been seeded third and will open their campaign against Australian qulified pair of Lukas Defolky and Michael Fariman. The other Indian men’s doubles pair of Arjun M.R. and Ramchandran Shlok will meet Australians Tam Raymond and Eric Vuong.
Another Indian men’s doubles pair of Rohan Kapoor and Shivam Sharma will meet Malaysians Tang Jie Chen and Goh Soon Huat while eighth seeds Francis Alwin and K. Nandagopal will face Tae In Jung and Hwi Tae Kim.
In the men’s singls, world No.18 Praneeth has been handed a top seeding and he will meet Israel’s Misha Zilberman in the opening round.
Fourth seed Sameer Verma faces New Zealand’s Abhinav Manota while Sourabh Verma will take on Takuma Ueda of Japan.
Ajay Jayaram will face Japanese Riichi Takeshita while Lakshya Sen may find it tough against Hong Kong seventh seed Lee Cheuk Yiu.
In the women’s singles, Sai Uttejitha Rao Chukka will meet Japanese Ayumi Mine and Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli will take on Indonesia’s Yulia Yosephin Susanto. Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka will meet Georgina Bland of England.
World No.14 Michelle Li of Canada is the top seed in this category. She will begin her campaign against Chinese Han Yue.
In the women’s doubles, J. Meghana and Poorvisha S Ram will face Maggie Chan and Jodee Vega of Australia.
Earlier on Tuesday, Meghana paired up with Shivam Sharma as they won their mixed doubles first round against Indonesians Yehezkiel Fritz Mainakay and Lyanny Alessandra Mainaky 21-13, 21-10.
Another Indian mixed doubles pair, Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg, lost to South Koreans Kim Won Ho and Yu Rim Lee 10-21, 11-21.