New Delhi: Saina Nehwal will once again be the cynosure of all the eyes but the India Open Super Series, the last qualifying event for the 2012 Olympics, will hold more significance for her compatriots seeking to book berths for the quadrennial extravaganza.
Already assured of a berth, Saina will be desperate to win the India Open, starting on Tuesday, but for Jwala Gutta, it will be her last chance to become the first Indian shuttler to qualify for two events - women's and mixed doubles events. Already ahead in the run for qualification, it will also be the last chance for Ajay Jayaram to cement his place for the Olympics in men's singles.
Besides the Olympic qualification, the India Open also assumes significance for the young generation of Indian shuttlers who would hope to make an impression at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
World number five Saina will start her campaign against Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong and is expected to easily reach the quarter-finals, where she is likely to meet two-time All England champion Tine Baun of Denmark.
"It is a good draw; Tine Baun is there in the quarters. Even the Chinese I had lost against in ABC (Asia Badminton Championship) will also play in the qualifiers here, but I am confident. I am desperate to win the India Open," Saina said.
Jayaram, who lost in the second round in Asia Badminton Championship, will be up against compatriot Sourabh Verma in his tournament opener after world number 20 Rajiv Ouseph pulled out of the main draw. Sourabh was promoted from the qualifiers to the main draw on Sunday. The winner is likely to meet world number one Lee Chong Wei in the second round. Jayaram's competitor for the Olympic berth P Kashyap will take on Belgium's Yuhan Tan in his first match and is likely to meet fifth seed Korean Hyun IL Lee if he advances.
It is also an important tournament for Jwala, in the running for qualifying in two events in the Olympics, partnering Ashwini Ponnappa and V Diju. Jwala and Diju, ranked 16th in the world, will be up against the Chinese pair of Tao Jiaming and Xia Huan in their campaign opener, while Jwala and Ashwini will meet seventh seed Hong Kong pair of Lok Yan Poon and Ying Suet Tse.
Top Indian men's doubles pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas has fierce competition in top seed Korean combo of Jae Sung Jung and Yong Dae Lee in their opener.
Among others, rising shuttler PV Sindhu will lock horns with Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei in the women's singles, while RMV Gurusaidutt, who was promoted to the main draw on Sunday, will take on a qualifier on Wednesday.
Pranav Chopra and Prajakta Sawant will face Japan's Noriyasu Hirata and Miyuki Maeda, while Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan will take on seventh seed Japanese Shintaro Ikeda and Reiko Shiota in the mixed doubles. In another mixed doubles match, Akshay Dewalkar and Pradnya Gadre will fight it out with third seeded Korean pair of Yong Dae Lee and Jung Eun Ha.
In women's doubles, Aparna and Siki Reddy will face off Yixin Bao and Qianxin Zhong of China in the first round, while Pradnya Gadre and Prajakta Sawant will meet the Thai pair of Duanganong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul. Also in the fray, P Jyotshna and PC Thulasi will take on Korean combo of Hye Won Eom and Ye Na Jang in the women's doubles.
Pranav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar will be up against Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit of Thailand, while Tarun Kona and Arun Vishnu will meet the Indonesian pair of Angga Pratama and Ryan Agung Saputra in the men's doubles. Another men's doubles pair, Manu Attri and Jishnu Sanyal, will take on the Indonesian pair of Adam Cwalina and Michal Logosz, while Manish Gupta and GauraVenkat will meet a qualifier.
Bennet Antony and Suraj PH will take on the Korean pair of Ki Jung Kim and Sa Rang Kim, while Mayank Behal and Manjush Mohan KK will meet third seed Chinese pair of Biao Chai and Zhendong Guo in another men's doubles fixture. Gopi Raju G and Shivam Sharma will meet V Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim, while Sumeeth Reddy B and Hemanagendra Babu T will take on fourth seed Mohammad Ahsan and Bona Septano.
In an all-Indian clash, Manish Gupta and Gaurav Venkat will take on compatriots Sanjeeth S and Jagadish Yadav.
In the mixed doubles event, Tarun and Ashwini will pair up to take on the Indonesian combo of Muhammad Rijal and Debby Susanto. Gaurav Venkat and Juhi Dewangan will take on a qualifying combo, while Hemanagendra Babu T and Jyotshna P will meet Hanbin He and Yixin Bao of China. Manu and Siki will pair up to take on the Singaporean combo of Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Yu Yan Vanessa Neo in the mixed doubles.