PV Sindhu may face Akane Yamaguchi in Tokyo quarter finals, tough draw for Chirag and Satwik

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Express News Service

CHENNAI: After the official draw on Thursday, the road ahead is much clearer for Indian shuttlers who’ll be taking part in the Olympics. But as expected, it is going to be a demanding affair at the mother of all events, especially from the knockout rounds.

Both PV Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth are expected to get past the group stages and both could possibly face elite rivals from Japan in the last-eight stage of the event. Sindhu, who’s seeded sixth in the women’s singles, has been drawn alongside Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi and Ksenia Polikarpova of Israel in Group J.

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Toppers from each group will enter knockouts. The Rio Olympics silver medallist is expected to do the same and face 13th seed Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark in the pre-quarters. If she manages to beat Blichfeldt, she could run into fourth seed Akane Yamaguchi.

B Sai Praneeth, India’s lone hope in the men’s singles, was drawn alongside Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands and Misha Zilberman of Israel in Group D. The 13th seed, however, could potentially face a stern test from the knockout stage. In the Round of 16, he could run into eighth seed NG Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong. Even though the two have rarely crossed paths, Angus has a 3-1 lead in head-to-head record against the Indian shuttler.

If Praneeth manages to pull off a win, he could be up against top seed and favourite Kento Momota in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, the men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy has been drawn alongside top seeds — Indonesian pair of Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi — in Group A.

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Apart from the top seeds, they’ll be up against in-form Chinese Taipei pair of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin. The duo had won both tournaments in Thailand earlier this year. Great Britain’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy are the fourth pair in the group. The top two sides advance to knockouts.

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