New Delhi, March 15: Newly-crowned All England Open champion Chen Yufei and defending men's singles champion Shi Yuqi will lead the draw as the 9th edition of the India Open beginning at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall of Indira Gandhi International Stadium, on March 26.
After eight successful years at the Siri Fort Sports Complex, this time the USD 350,000 tournament will not only have a brand-new address but is also set to welcome the biggest ever Chinese contingent. Having upset World No 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the final of the All England Open last week, World No 2 Yufei will command a lot of attention as she battles it out with India's very best at this premier World Tour Super 500 event.
The main draw of women's singles has as many as six Chinese shuttlers, with World No 7 He Bingjiao and World No 14 Han Yue receiving the third and seventh seeding respectively. Former champion and 2012 Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui makes her return while Chen Xiaoxin and Cai Yanyan are the other Chinese in the draw.
The Indian challenge will be spearheaded by second seed and 2017 winner PV Sindhu and two-time champion Saina Nehwal, seeded fifth this time.
Shi Yuqi, whose All England title defence ended in the semifinals to Viktor Axelsen, will hope to rebound at the India Open. The World No 2 Chinese, who begins his challenge against compatriot Huang Yuxiang, could meet his countryman Zhou Zeqi in the quarterfinals. World No 19 Lu Guangzu and the 37th ranked Zhao Junpeng will clash in yet another thrilling all-Chinese face-off.
Axelsen, second seed this time and winner in 2017, will look to continue the fireworks after reaching the final of the All England Open earlier this month.
India has handsome representation in the men's singles section with six shuttlers from home vying for the title. While 2015 champion Kidambi Srikanth has been seeded third, BWF World Tour Finals semifinalist Sameer Verma is the fifth seed.
Sai Praneeth, HS Prannoy, Parupalli Kashyap, Subhankar Dey will carry the home hopes as well. The third-seeded men's' doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will begin their 2019 season at the India Open amid a lot of expectations. Former National Champions Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy are the only other Indian pair to have been seeded at sixth.
2018 World Championships quarter-finalists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa are the eighth seeds in the mixed doubles draw which is led by the Chinese pair of Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping, the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals champions.
Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy are unseeded and could face the fourth seeds Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja in the second round. Commonwealth Games bronze medallist combine of Reddy and Ponnappa will look to pull off an upset over the sixth seeds Li Wenmei and Zheng Yu in women's doubles.