The Tokyo Olympics badminton draws for the men’s singles are out. Indian shuttler Sai Praneeth has found a place in Group D in the opening round. Praneeth will be facing Netherland’s Mark Caljouw and Israel’s Misha Zilberman to make it to the knockouts of the event. Praneeth is in for a tricky opening round with Caljouw being in top form lately.
In the women’s singles, the top player from every group will be proceeding to the knock-out stages. Therefore, out of the 43 players, we will have 14 men shuttlers moving onto the next round and will fight it out for a place on the podium.
Tokyo Olympics Badminton Draws: Sai Praneeth eyes a podium finish on maiden Olympic appearance
Praneeth for long under the shadow of Srikanth and HS Prannoy surpassed the duo by getting a bronze at the 2019 Worlds and later qualifying for Tokyo. His current form though is a cause for concern. The only notable result this year was a 3-game loss to Viktor Axelsen at the All England. In fact, even a disinterested Srikanth is currently ahead of him in the World Rankings.
Unlike WS, the Men’s Singles competition at Tokyo has one clear-cut gold favorite in Kento Momota. There are a number of others who can pose a challenge; Axelsen, the Indonesians Ginting and Christie, defending Champion Chen Long, Shi Yuqi, Chou Tien-Chen and Lee Zii Jia; but they will likely be fighting over silver and bronze. Kento at the moment looks unstoppable, especially at his home event.
Praneeth at present is nowhere in the picture. A Round of 16 loss to one of the above appears to be the most plausible outcome. He can punch above his weight to reach the quarters a la Srikanth and P. Kashyap provided he can get over his weakness of losing form and fitness in the 3rd game. Predicting anything more would be far-fetched.