New Delhi, 16 January: Reigning Commonwealth Games champion Lakshya Sen and  Asian Games bronze medallist HS Prannoy on Monday admitted that points earned in the Super 750 status of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open in the tournament will play a crucial role in the Paris Olympics qualification.

Elevated from the Super 500 to the Super 750 status last year, the Yonex-Sunrise India Open, organised by the Badminton Association of India (BAI), is set to take place at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi from January 16-21.

The 2023 World Championships bronze medallist Prannoy, currently ranked 8th in the Race to Paris rankings, will be aiming to climb higher in the rankings as he kicks off his campaign against Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei.

Highlighting the high stakes involved in the tournament, Prannoy opined, “The Yonex-Sunrise India Open holds immense significance for me but this year is extra special as it will be providing a pedestal to improve my ranking ahead of the summer Olympics. Playing on home soil will be an added boost, and the support of our fans adds an extra layer of motivation.”

Currently ranked 17th in the Race to Paris rankings, Sen who won the Yonex-Sunrise India Open in 2022, will commence his campaign against the emerging talent Priyanshu Rawat, with an eye on securing the coveted second spot.

“Winning the India Open in 2022 has been a cornerstone in shaping my career, and I anticipate a similar influential role of the tournament in the context of Paris qualifications. Starting out against Priyanshu will be tough but I am optimistic about my chances of making a deep run in the tournament to make a stride in the rankings,” said Lakshya Sen.

Alongside Prannoy and Sen, the 10-player Indian contingent will be spearheaded by Asian Games gold medallists Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in the men’s doubles and former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth in the men’s singles category.

In women’s doubles, the pairs of Treesa Jolly-Gayatri Gopichand and Ashwini Ponnappa-Tanisha Crasto will be aiming to strengthen their position in the Race to Paris rankings.

The prestigious tournament will provide Indian players with the opportunity to accumulate significantly higher-ranking points on their home turf, thereby enhancing their quest for qualification for the Paris Olympics. As per the qualification regulations, India can have two men's singles players in the top 16 by April 30.

With a prize pool of USD 850,000, the Yonex-Sunrise India Open will witness a total of 247 shuttlers from 23 countries who will enthrall the fans with their captivating performances.

The reigning World champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand will also be a part of the galaxy of stars gracing the tournament as he gears up to defend his  India Open title.

“I am thrilled to return to the India Open as the defending champion. The competition promises to be fierce this time but I am ready to showcase my best game and give my all on the court once again,” expressed Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

All the shuttlers inside the current top 10 of the men’s singles BWF World Rankings including top seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, former World Champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore, and Asian Games 2022 bronze medallist Kodai Naraoka of Japan, will take the stage.

In the women’s singles category, three-time champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand and the Japanese duo of two-time World Champion Akane Yamaguchi and Rio Olympics bronze medallist Nozomi Okuhara, are set to compete.

With five players in men’s singles, four in women’s singles, ten each in both doubles categories, and eight in mixed doubles, Japan boasts the largest contingent at the tournament, with a total of 37 players competing across all categories.

Following Japan, China have fielded the second largest contingent comprising 34 players followed by Chinese Taipei with 23 players. 

"Over the last decade India has emerged as one of the powerhouses of the sport. Events like the Yonex-Sunrise India Open have had a key role in this phenomenon, as upcoming players and fans get inspired by watching the best players up close. This year there is added excitement as the clock ticks closer to Paris . ," said BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer.

"The Yonex-Sunrise India Open has long stood as a legacy tournament for Indian Badminton. .This championship has always played a strong platform and breeding ground for future champions. " added BAI General Secretary Sanjay Mishra.

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