India Open: Vitidsarn out to Defend Crown

World champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand will have two star names fewer to worry about as he launches his men’s singles title defence of the YONEX-SUNRISE India Open 2024 in New Delhi.

The Danish duo of world No.1 Viktor Axelsen and last week’s PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2024 winner Anders Antonsen were late withdrawals.

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Vitidsarn, who commences his campaign against another Dane in Magnus Johannesen on Wednesday, was conservative about his chances given his recent form.

“I’m thrilled to return to the India Open as the defending champion. The competition promises to be fierce this time,” he said.

“Many players are challenging (here) because I haven’t been having the best performances lately, but I’m ready to showcase my best game and give my all on the court once again.”

REWIND: Watch Vitidsarn’s inspired defeat of Axelsen in YONEX-SUNRISE India Open 2023 final.

Asked if the world champion tag weighed on him, he added: “After this event (in India), I plan to focus more on Masters 500 and 300 competitions.

“I felt a bit more pressure after I won the World Championships, but I’ve been trying to tackle that by playing more competitions and coming up against different opponents to challenge myself mentally. It will eventually release me from the pressures I’ve felt since.”

Home favourites HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen, both in action on Tuesday, will feed off the energy of the New Delhi crowds.

Prannoy, who had a breakout year in 2023, has a somewhat tricky start against Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei in the Round of 32.

“I had a bad Malaysia Open but someone like Anders (Antonsen) going on to win the tournament shows the level of competition,” said Prannoy.

“It’s so hard in the men’s singles, performing every week is tough but that’s what I’m trying to improve. The target is to win big tournaments consistently.”

Prannoy and Sen.

Sen has been pitted in the opening round against compatriot Priyanshu Rajawat, who is a familiar opponent from the junior circuit.

“We’ve played each other many times, and he has often been my roommate on tour,” Sen revealed. “It will be an interesting match.”

YONEX-SUNRISE India Open 2024 starts 11.30am Kuala Lumpur time (UTC +8).

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