Ace Indian shuttler PV Sindhu has been given a tough draw at the BWF World Tour Finals, which starts on Wednesday at Guangzhou, China.
Sindhu, who was runners-up at the last edition in Dubai, will need to negotiate defending champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, world number 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei and United States' Beiwen Zhang in Group A of women's singles competition.
But, debutante Sameer Verma will fancy his chances of making it to the men's singles knockout stage after drawing with Japanese world number 1 Kento Momota, Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto and Thailand's Kantaphon Wangcharoen in Group B.
The top two players from each group will qualify for the semifinals, after which a knockout draw will be conducted.
Only eight top players compete in the prestigious season-ending event.
Sindhu, who will be making her third successive appearance at the tournament, have a 9-4 head-to-head record against Yamaguchi but she has lost four times to the Japanese in five meetings this season.
The 23-year-old from Hyderabad also have found the going tough against Asian Games Champion Tai Tzu Ying, who has beaten her in all their last six encounters. The last time Sindhu defeated Tzu Ying was at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Against Zhang, Sindhu has a 3-3 head-to-head record but the Indian has lost twice in the last three meetings, which included a final defeat at the India Open World Tour Super 500 tournament in New Delhi.
Sameer, who is the second Indian men's player after Kidambi Srikanth to qualify for the tournament, will have a less difficult path to the semifinals.
He has a 1-1 head-to-head record against both Sugiarto and Wangcharoen. Sameer's main worry will be Momota, whom he has defeated en route to his Swiss Open title but the Japanese has emerged as an indomitable force ever since.
Saina Nehwal has represented India at the prestigious tournament – earlier known as Super Series Final – seven times, reaching the finals at the 2011 edition.
(With PTI inputs)