After almost nine months of no shuttles flying around on the 14×6 meter court, no zesty smashes and immaculate drops, Badminton will finally announce its arrival in stadia. Thailand Open 2021, starting on January 12, will see the best shuttlers take on each other in Bangkok; sans the Japanese and Chinese contingents.

With a point to prove, stakes really high, the players will combat to commence the season on a winning note. The Indian contingent has been practicing hard, as Saina Nehwal and company would eye the absence of their Japanese and Chinese counterparts as a golden opportunity to shuffle up the ranks, a bit. However, apart from the likes of Nehwal, Sindhu, Srikanth, Praneeth, other Indian shuttlers will see some intra-group contest too.

Here is a list of the Indian shuttlers who can make it big at the Thailand Open 2021:

1) PV Sindhu : Category- Women’s singles

Reigning World badminton champion and Olympic Silver medalist PV Sindhu has her eyes set on Tokyo this year. While talking to Sportstar the World number seven said that the mental aspect of the game will play a huge role when players get into a competition for the first time since the pandemic.

I am really looking forward to and excited for my first tournament in Thailand (after the 2020 All England Championship). Yes, the mental aspect is the key. One needs to be very patient after such a long break. Hopefully, we will start playing from January [2021], with the Thailand events lined up first. We have to keep ourself safe and fit by working hard. I know this Covid-19 is going to be there and will not go just like that,” Sindhu told Sportstar.

Sindhu, seeded sixth, will open against Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the opening round at the Yonex Thailand Open.

2) B Sai Praneeth: Category- Men’s singles

The winner in Bangkok, 2017, B Sai Praneeth is a promising talent. Owing to a phenomenal run in 2018-19, the 28-year-old had broken into the top 10. However, he lost six straight matches before the pandemic. But it is high time to let go of the past and perform. Speaking to the Olympic Channel shortly after BAI confirmed his participation for the two Thailand Opens and the BWF World Tour Finals, Sai Praneeth said, “Qualify for the Olympics and win a medal,” Sai Praneeth declared his plans for 2021. It’s been a very long time since I competed. I am pumped and looking forward to getting back to competing. I have been training for the past few months. But I have not competed. Being fit and being match fit are two different things. That’s something I have in mind.”

He starts his campaign against Thai shuttler Kantaphon Wangcharoen and the draw holds a possibility that Praneeth meets world No 4 Viktor Axelsen in round 2– a big match.

Kidambi Srikanth: Category- Men’s singles

Arguably the most talented of the lot, Srikanth has also come from Pulela Gopichand’s tutelage. After shooting to fame in 2016, Kidambi Srikanth looks the most promising Indian on the court. However, he has had his spells with injuries and hopes to remain fit all the way.

Talking to Olympic channel he said, “I would like to be physically fit and do well in all the tournaments that I play. The New Year resolution that I managed to hold onto was to get physically better. I think I managed to work on my physical fitness and get better.”

Given the fact that his maiden BWF Grand Prix title came at the Thailand Open in 2013, he’ll eye another big win here.

The 27-year-old will start his campaign against Sourabh Verma. Whoever wins, could go against another Indian shuttler, HS Prannoy.

Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy: Category- Men’s doubles

The Shetty-Satwiksairaj pair made it big in the Thailand Open of 2019. They became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to win a Super 500 title beating reigning world champions Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen. Extending their run, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy made the final of French Open Super 750 event. Their best ranking came to World No 7 last year and the duo is considered India’s only hope to achieve big in the category.

Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will start against Korea’s Kim Gi-Jung and Lee Yong-dae.