Macau, Nov 29: Star shuttler Saina Nehwal will spearhead the Indian challenge at the $120,000 Macau Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament, which starts here on Tuesday after defending champion PV Sindhu pulled out on Monday (Nov 28).
The Rio Olympics silver medallist was originally scheduled to take on China's Yue Han in the opening match of the tournament on Wednesday. Sindhu lost in the final of the Hong Kong Open on Sunday (Nov 27).
But the Hyderabadi shuttler has withdrawn after paying back-to-back China Open and Hong Kong Open tournaments.
"No, she will not be playing in the Macau Open because she has played two back-to-back tournaments recently. So she needs rest before the BWF Superseries Final in Dubai," her father PV Ramana confirmed to IANS from Hyderabad.
The Dubai Superseries final will be played from December 14-18 where only the world's top eight players make the cut.
In Sindhu's absence her compatriot Saina Nehwal, who recovered from a knee surgery which affected her Olympic campaign three months back, will be the main Indian challenge in the women's singles.
She also participated in recent Hong Kong Open in which she went till the quarter final stage, showing a steady improvement in her fitness.
The Hyderabadi shuttler will face Indonesia's Hanna Ramadini in the opening round.
In the men's singles category, Sameer Verma, who was in spotlight after reaching the finals at Hong Kong, is also participating in the tournament.
He will take on Milan Ludik of Czech in the opening round.
Making a comeback after a long break, Parupalli Kashyap will also hope to shrug off the disappointment when he will take on Malaysia's Guo Zheng Sim.
Among other Indians in the fray, third seeds Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy will face Hong Kong's Chan Alan Yun Lung and Li Kuen Hon in the men's doubles categories.
Jwala Gutta with Manu Attri will take on Satrya Aditha and Aprilsasi Putri Lejarsar Variella of Indonesia the mixed doubles category.