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Top billing up for grabs

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first_img Rohit Paniker New DelhiMarch 25, 2019UPDATED: March 25, 2019 13:26 IST With the withdrawal of Chen Yufei, He Bingjiao is the highest-seeded women's singles player at India Open (IANS Photo)The India Open 2019 was on Sunday dealt with a major blow as World No. 2 and reigning All England Championship winner Chen Yufei and defending champion Shi Yuqi withdrew from the tournament just two days before the main draw.The Chinese duo, top seeds at the tournament, cited injury as the reason behind their withdrawal. The extent of the injury is yet to be known,The 22-member contingent arrived in the Capital in the early hours of Sunday and also held a practice session later in the afternoon at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall of IG Stadium - which is also the venue for the tournament.Speaking to Mail Today, Girish Natu, the technical director of the India Open, said: "We just received the letter from China that Shi Yuqi and Chen Yufei have withdrawn from the tournament. They have cited injury concerns. We don't know the extent of the injuries as we haven't received their medical certificate. The Chinese coaches are yet to arrive, they come on Monday and we will only know once they hand us the certificates. The qualifiers will now take their place in the tournament."The absence of these top-billed players blows the main draw wide open, especially in the women's singles which already misses the star power without the big names in Carolina Marin, Sung Ji Hyun and World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying.Earlier this week, Saina Nehwal, seeded fifth, pulled out after failing to recover from an acute gastroenteritis problem.In the absence of the highest world-ranked Chinese singles players, PV Sindhu becomes the favourite for the women's crown, much like Danish World No. 4 Viktor Axelsen, in the men's singles.advertisementSindhu, seeded second, will be closely followed by third seed He Bingjiao and 2016 winner Ratchanok Intanon.Additional responsibilities now lay on the shoulders of young Chinese shuttler Bingjiao, who was all smiles during the practice session on Sunday.The 22-year-old World Championship bronze medallist finished quarter-finalist at All England and enters the India Open with a fresh perspective and an aim to put an end to her title drought."The biggest thing I changed about my game was my attitude towards it. When I started, I wasn't that serious. I was young and just wanted to play. Now, that the senior players have retired and we have really entered the fray, I feel a sense of responsibility towards my country. I have become more serious and have been working much harder to achieve my goals," she said.With one eye on the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers, starting April 29, Bingjiao has made already chosen her priorities."I have three main targets after this tournament. First, I want to work closely with my team members to win the Sudirman Cup that will be held in China. Secondly, my bigger target will be to improve upon my performance at the World Championships. Last year, I beat Tai Tzu but failed to progress further. I want to improve on that.Third, and most important target for me, is to work hard to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It is a dream for any athlete to play at the Olympics and while I don't think about winning medals, my focus remains on qualifying for it," she concluded.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn't like in the comments Posted byAkshay Ramesh Tags :Follow India Open 2019Follow He BingjiaoFollow Chen YufeiFollow PV Sindhu Top billing up for grabsWorld No. 2 Shi Yuqi and Chen Yufei withdraw from India Open as Bingjiao now headlines Chinese contingentadvertisementlast_img