World's top shuttlers for first India Open

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New Delhi, Mar 15: Top men and women shuttlers of the world will showcase their wares at the US 120,000 dollars India Open to be held in Hyderabad next month.

The championship was originally scheduled for September last year but was postponed due to security reasons.
The first ever Grand Prix championship to be held in India, will feature three of the top 10 men players as well as six of the top 10 women, including the current top three.The India Open has become important as it is the second last tournament where performance will count towards qualification for the Beijing Olympics.'

'Anup Sridhar and Saina Nehwal are very likely to make the cut as is the women's doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Shruti Kurian,'' Badminton Association of India president V K Verma told the mediapersons here this afternoon.''Several Indian players have done very well in the recent past. We have four players in the top 30 and eight in the top 50.

''This tournament will give them an opportunity to compete against the best and also prepare themselves for the Asian championships,'' Verma said, adding ''more high level events are lined up in the country such as the 2009 World Championships.

National coach and former All England champion Pullela Gopichand said competing against the best players in home conditions was a great opportunity for Indians.

''They will get to know where they stand at the international level. I wish I had such an opportunity in my playing days,'' he added.

The lure of Olympic qualification has seen 230 players from 27 countries, including 36 Indians, to confirm their participation in the event.

They include the Chinese trio of Bao Chunlai (world no 3), 2008 All England champion Chen Jin (4) and Chen Yu (9) among men, and the top three women - Xie Xingfang (1), Zhang Ning (2) and Lu Lan (3).

''This will be an annual event from this year and would be rotated between different centres in the country.

''All top badminton countries in the world have a tournament named after them - be it China, Indonesia, Korea or Malaysia. With the India Open, we have also joined the big league,'' he added.

Verma said that there was every likelyhood that the Grand Prix would be elevated to the level of a Super Series event, making it part of the most elite badminton circuit in the world.

''There ar 12 Super Series events at the moment and the proposal is to increase the number to 14 by 2010. India would have the best chance to benefit from that decision,'' the BAI chief, who is also the Executive Board of the Badminton World Federation and the secretary general of the Asian Badminton Confederation said.

The draw for the tournament will be held on March 19 in Hyderabad.

UNI

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