Basel (Switzerland), March 11: Two-time winner Saina Nehwal and defending champion Sameer Verma will look to shrug off their All England disappointment when they spearhead India's campaign at the Swiss Open, starting with the qualifiers here Tuesday (March 12).
For Sameer, this event started his journey that culminated into a World Tour Final semifinal finish last year and a career-high ranking of 11. He had defeated newly-crowned All England Champion Kento Momota in the quarterfinals, a few months before the Japanese went on to become the world No. 1 and world champion last year.
World no. 14 Sameer will be opening his campaign in USD 150,000 event against a qualifier after his elder brother Sourabh, who had also battled injuries on his way to becoming the Senior National Champion last month at Guwahati, pulled out of the tournament.
Sameer might face fellow Indian B Sai Praneeth in the second round and a favourable result is likely to hand him over the chance to settle scores with former world no. 1 Viktor Axelsen, who had defeated him in the first round of All England Championships in Birmingham last week.
The BWF World Tour Super 300 event will be Saina's fourth outing this season, having won the Indonesia Masters before losing in the semifinals and quarterfinals at Malaysia Masters and All England Championship respectively.
A bout of diarrhoea had affected her performance last week at Birmingham and Saina would look to recover quickly before she begins her campaign against a qualifier, eying to secure her third title at Swiss. She had won the event in 2011 and 2012 in the past.
Seeded third, Saina is expected to face second-seeded He Bingjiao of China in the semifinals if the results fall in her favour. Among other Indians in the fray, Saina's husband and fellow shuttler, Parupalli Kashyap, a former Commonwealth Games champion, will face a qualifier, Praneeth will meet England's Rajiv Ouseph and SaarLorLux Open champion Subhankar Dey will also take on a qualifier in first round.
In women's singles, Vaishnavi Jakka Reddy will be the only other Indian in the competition. She will square off against Estonia's Kristin Kuuba. In men's doubles, Arjun MR and Ramchandran Shlok and Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy will also eye their chances, while Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will lead India's challenge in the women's doubles.
Pooja Dandu and Sanjana Santosh will also look for a good outing in the women's doubles. In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki will be the prime contenders for India, while Arjun MR and Maneesha K and Dhruv Kapila and Kuhoo Garg will also be in the fray. In the qualifiers, Riya Mookerjee and Vrushali Gummadi will be in the fray.