New Delhi, March 30:
India’s women shuttlers were Sunday handed a relatively easy group in the Uber Cup with Thailand, Canada and Hong Kong while the men would find it much tougher having been slotted with Malaysia, South Korea and Germany for the Thomas Cup at a glittering draw ceremony here Sunday.
Thomas Cup (men’s world team championship) defending champions and second seeds China have been placed in Group D with Chinese Taipei, Russia and France. Also defending the Uber Cup (women’s), China is listed in Group A with Chinese Taipei, England and Russia.
While the men will have it tough, the women, led by top-10 shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu, will definitely fancy advancing to the knockout stages.
“The men’s draw is tougher that the women for India. We have Malaysia in men’s which is a good team but they have recently broken a few doubles combinations. Apart from World No.1 Lee Chong Wei, other teams are beatable so we have a chance there but the competition is going to be challenging,” said chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand while analysing the draws.
“On the women’s side, we would have been better off without Hong Kong. But they also don’t have so much of depth. I expect us to get into the last stages of the tournament.”
The prestigious Thomas and Uber Cup finals will be held in India for the first time May 18-25. Starting this year, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has done away with the qualifiers and the host nation along with the defending champions get automatic qualification for both events. Fourteen other teams now qualify based on rankings.
Sixteen teams have been divided into four groups out of which the top two from each group will go through to the quarterfinals.
This is also the first time the instant review system will be used in the events.
Group A: Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Singapore
Group B: Japan, Denmark, Hong Kong, England
Group C: Malaysia, South Korea, India, Germany
Group D: China, Chinese Taipei, Russia, France
Group A: China, Chinese Taipei, England, Russia
Group B: South Korea, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore
Group C: Thailand, India, Canada, Hong Kong
Group D: Japan, Denmark, Malaysia, Germany