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Sindhu, Saina chase glory as All England begins

By The Assam Tribune

BIRMINGHAM, March 10: Undeterred by the coronavirus outbreak, Indian shuttlers will continue to chase glory at the All England Championships beginning here on Wednesday, with reigning world champion PV Sindhu spearheading the campaign.

The season�s first Super 1000 event witnessed a dramatic build-up in the wake of the COVID19 outbreak, which has claimed over 4000 lives and infected more than 100,000 people globally.

In the United Kingdom itself, the number of infected people has gone past 300 with five deaths so far.

A number of tournaments, including the German Open, was postponed since the deadly disease first broke out in Wuhan, China, affecting the preparation of the shuttlers for the Tokyo Olympics.

Concerned about their health, seven Indian shuttlers, including former top 10 player H S Prannoy and world No. 10 men�s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy have withdrawn from the All England.

The USD 1,100,000 BWF world tour event offers 12,000 ranking points to the winner and with the Olympic qualification on the line, most of the top players will be seen in action at the Arena Birmingham.

While Sindhu, who is almost assured of an Olympic berth, will look to end a nearly two-decade-old title jinx at the All England Championship by adding the coveted title to her 2019 world championships gold, former silver medallist Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth will eye valuable points to squeeze inside the top 16 before the deadline for Olympic qualification ends on April 28.

Chief national coach P Gopichand was the last Indian to win the championship, in 2001. Sindhu will look to overturn a run of recent poor finishes and emulate her mentor with the top medal.

World No. 6 Sindhu, who had reached the semifinal in 2018, will need to cut down on unforced errors and strengthen her defence as she opens against USA�s Beiwen Zhang. The 24-year-old is expected to take on Korea�s Sung Ji Hyun if she crosses the opening hurdle. � PTI

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