Australian Open Badminton: Kidambi Srikanth Withdraws; Sameer Varma, Mithun Manjunath Take Centre Stage

With Srikanth not competing in Sydney, all focus will be on Sameer Varma and Mithum Manjunnath.

As a result of pulling out, Srikanth's chance of qualifying for the World Tour Finals ends.

Star Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth has pulled out of the Australian Open Super 300 badminton tournament beginning in Sydney on Tuesday. (More Cricket News)

Srikanth, thus, joined Lakshya Sen and doubles duo Satwiksairaj Rankreddy and Chirag Shetty in withdrawing from the USD 180,000 tournament.

Placed at number 10 in the Race to Guanzhou rankings, Srikanth needed to win the tournament to have any hopes of qualifying for the season-ending World Tour Final in December.

But the 29-year-old from Guntur, who had claimed the bronze medal at Commonwealth Games and also played a heroic role in India's epic Thomas Cup win this year, decided to give it a miss. 

Srikanth had reached the semifinals in his last tournament at Hylo Open in Saarbrucken, Germany. The Indian had finished at the last four at Korea Open and Swiss Open as well.

His withdrawal means HS Prannoy will be India's only representation at the World Tour Finals, especially after the double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu too pulled out of the Guangzhou event on Sunday.

India's challenge at Australian Open will be led by Sameer Verma, who is coming back from a long injury lay-off. He will open his campaign against Nathan Tang.

Sameer, who is a former world no. 11, had won three BWF tournaments -- Swiss Open, Hyderabad Open and Syed Modi International in 2018 to qualify for the World Tour Final but he lost his rhythm after that, followed by COVID-induced break.

His return last year was short-lived as he had to retire from the Denmark Open quarterfinals with a calf injury. He also had issues with his hip and shoulder.

He looked in good touch during his three-game win over World No. 8 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the French Open.

Mithun Manjunath, who had reached the finals at Orleans Masters Super 100 event and two international challenges in Nagpur and Bengaluru, will be up against second seed Loh Kean Yew of Singapore.

In women's singles, Tanya Hemanth will be up against Goh Jin Wei of Malaysia and Anwesha Gowda will meet local player Pitchaya Elysia Viravong.

In doubles, women's pair of Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker and men's combination of Hariharan Amsakarunan and Ruban Kumar Rethinasabapathi will also be in the fray.