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Prannoy to spearhead Indian challenge in Australia Open

HS Prannoy will look to regain his lost form when he spearheads India’s challenge at the Australian Open badminton tournament starting here on Tuesday.

Prannoy, seeded fifth here, didn’t have the best of results in the last two tournaments. He was stunned by compatriot Meiraba Luwang Maisnam in the men’s singles opening round of Thailand Open last month.

If that was not enough, Prannoy (WR10) lost to Kenta Nishimoto (WR11) 13-21, 21-14, 15-21 in a 45-minute Round of 16 match in Singapore Open.

The Indian will be desperate to turn things around in the BWF Super 500 event here as he opens his campaign against Ygor Coelho of Brazil.

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Sameer Verma will play Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo of Indonesia in the opening round, while Ravi faces a tough opponent in eight seed Loh Kean Yew of Singapore.

Other Indians to feature in the men’s singles are Mithun Manjunath, who will take on Indonesia’s Alwi Farhan, Kiran Geoge, who is up against Canada’s Xiaodong Sheng, and S Sankar Muthusamy Subramanian who is pitted against top seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia.

In women’s singles, eighth seed Aakarshi Kashyap will lead the Indian charge. She will play Ukraine’s Polina Buhrova in the opening round.

Ashmita Chaliha will play Peru’s Ines Lucia Castillo, Anupama Upadhyaya will lock horns with Malaysia’s Wong Ling Ching, Samiya Imad Farooqui has a tough opponent in top seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, while Keyura Mopati and Malvika Bansod will feature in an all-Indian contest.

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No Indian features in the men’s doubles, while Panda sisters, Rutuparna and Swetaparna, seeded seventh, and the pair of Harshita Rout and Sruti Swain will lead India’s charge in the women’s doubles.

There are three Indian pairs in the mixed doubles.

Eighth seed B Sumeeth Reddy and Sikki Reddy will play Malaysian duo of Wong Tien Ci and Lim Chiew Sien in their opener, while Tarun Kona and Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli will be up against another Malaysian combination of Hoo Pang Ron and Cheng Su Yin.

The third Indian mixed doubles pair of Ayush Raj Gupta and Sruti Swain will play against Australian duo of Jordan Yang and Sydney Tjonadi in the opener.