Indian men's singles has settled for a launchpad where half a dozen shuttlers float around in the Top 60s, but it seems more like a plateau given that they've been unable to make the junp into the Top 15 bracket. Top seed here Sourabh Varma has to his credit some high-profile scalps, but a win at home in the International Series will prove his staying power over a week's playing time. Second seed RMV Guru Sai Dutt and B Sai Praneeth are others who have restlessly moved into the Top 50 of the world, but are yet to string together enough wins to win Sunday finals.
Varma who won the national championship last year and has cantered to No 34 plays Taipese Sheng-Jie Yang, while Guru runs into Indonesian Andre Marteen in the opener. Such draws especially in the season immediately post-Olympics tend to be filled with unknown commodities and the young Indians will hope they can live up to their ranking and reputation when playing at home.
Seasoned Chetan Anand, always a lesson in skill and flair if not in stamina and explosive power, takes on Indonesian third seed Zi Liang Derek Wong, while Anup Sridhar, looking leaner and fitter plays Malaysian Wei Sheng Loh as they keep the field interesting with their experienced defiance.
Youngster K Srikanth has notched some good wins domestically this season, and comes up against Robin Gonsansa.
In the women's section, India's highest seed is Neha Pandit at 2 and plays a qualifier in the opening round, while the hard-working Arundhati Pantwane would like to make good her hours of training when taking on Taipei youngster Ying Chun Lin. It's an important season for former national champion Sayali Gokhale who takes on qualifier Chien Hui Yu. An exciting local prospect is Mumbai girl Tanvi Lad, seeded third, who plays Wan Yi Tang of Taipei and former Tata Open Champion, PC Thulasi will try to bring to life her singles career. Simone Prutsch of Austria (World ranked No.71) is the top seed.
In Men's Doubles, the star attraction will be one of the best doubles/mixed players in the World Badminton Lee Yong Dae of Korea (London Olympics Bronze Medalist). Also in the fray are Malaysians Nelson Wei Keat Heg and Ee Yi Teo, seeded at No.4. There are also young Indonesians, Chinese Taipei, Korean combinations along with two Indian pairs Arun Vishnu/Tarun Kona and Pranav Chopra/Akshay Dewalkar, who will make a bid for the title.
The tournament carries prize money of US$ 15,000. The Tata Open India International Challenge is part of the international circuit badminton tournaments that earns ranking points for players. The qualifying rounds of the tournament will be held on December 12, 2012 and the main draw will commence from December 13, 2012, with finals taking place on December 16, 2012. Mr. Oliver Guruge of Sri Lanka will be the referee of this tournament.
The Cricket Club of India, Mumbai hosts the tournament at their world-class air-conditioned courts. Yonex shuttlecocks would be used for the tournament.
From Niluka land
Sri Lankan Oliver Guruge is in town as the chief referee of the Tata Open badminton, but the Sri Lankan is responsible for a precious solitary career back home in the island nation. As unofficial manager of Niluka Karunaratne, the Sri Lankan who managed to brighten up the country's otherwise dull Olympics, Guruge says the country's ace shuttler has given them a ray of hope beyond their staples of cricket, rugby and athletics.
"I wasn't completely surprised when he reached the pre-quarters beating former Japanese All England runner up Kenichi Tago because I've seen him improve. But for the country it was an exciting day since all our participants had gone out in the first round at London and he was against tremendous odds when playing Tago," he recalls.
It'll surprise many that Sri Lanka boasts of almost 7000 entries for their junior meets - u-13, 15, 17 and 19, as it is an extremely popular sport on the school circuit - a number that might even dwarf Indian junior numbers. "Now he's training under a Korean coach in Poland, and the whole country's hoping he can some day make it to the Top 10."