London Olympic bronze medal winning shuttler Saina Nehwal will spearhead the Indian challenge in the $275,000 French Open Super Series, starting in Paris on Tuesday.
Seeded fifth in the tournament, Saina, will face Sashina Vignes Waran of France in the first round of women’s singles while compatriot P.V. Sindhu, seeded eighth, will meet a tougher rival in Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin here.
Saina, who was the finalist here in 2012, is likely to face little trouble on her way to the quarterfinals. In case both Saina and Sindhu manage to cross the last-eight hurdle, they would clash against each other in the semifinals of the event.
In the men’s singles, Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold medallist Parupalli Kashyap will have an uphill task in the opening round itself, where he will be meeting World no. 4 Kenichi Tago of Japan.
K Srikanth, meanwhile, is expected to have an easy outing against a qualifier.
Other Indians in the men’s singles category, R M V Gurusaidutt and H S Prannoy, who last month won the Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold, will also face stiff challenge from World No.8 Hu Yun and World No.16 Kento Momota, respectively, in their first round contests.
In women’s doubles, star Indian pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will be up against the Netherlands duo of Eefje Muskens and Selena Peik in the first round.
The combination of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy will face fifth seeded Chinese pair of Liu Xialong and Qiu Zihan, while Pranaav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar will take on another Chinese duo of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen in the men’s doubles event.
In mixed doubles, the Indo-Russian combo of Ashwini and Vladimir Ivanov will play the qualifying round against local pair of Vincent Espen and Manon Krieger.