Saina eyes 2nd title of season in Thailand

Seeded top in the tournament, the world number four Indian ace, who has been blowing hot and cold this year after recovering from an ankle injury, will take on Chinese Lu Lan in the first round of the women's singles.

After a below-par performance at the start of the season, the 21-year-old clinched the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold title but was reduced to tears in the opening round of Indian Open Super Series by Ai Goto of Japan.

The Hyderabad girl then bounced back in the Malaysia open and finished as runners after losing to Xin Wang of China in the final.

In the Sudirman Cup too, she faced the ignominy of losing to then world number 18 Inthanon Ratchanok of Thailand but the gritty shuttler again made a stunning return defeating world number two Xin in the knockout stage of the tournament in Qingdao.

Saina has a tricky first round opponent in Lu, whom she has beaten twice but the Chinese too has tasted success against the Indian once in the 2009 Swiss Open and the Indian will have to tread her way carefully.

In men's singles, as many as four Indians will be seen in action with top Indian P Kashyap, seeded 14th, taking on local player Poodchalat Pisit in his first round.

World number 36 Ajay Jayaram, who had a moderately successful 2010 winning the Smiling Fish international and Czech Open, will be up against Chinese Taipei's Tien Chen Chou in another men's singles opener.

Among the younger shuttlers, rising talent RMV Guru Sai Dutt, who had defeated Thailand's Boonsak Ponsana and Belgium's Tan Yuhan to reach the quarterfinals in the Indian Open, will face Malaysian Kwong Beng Chan in the opening round tomorrow.

It will also be a test for Sourabh Verma, who had created a flutter with his giant-killing act in the Indian Open Super Series in April.

The young lad from Madhya Pradesh, who had beaten former Olympic bronze medallist Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Kenichi Tago of Japan at Siri Fort Stadium here, will take on Indonesian Andre Kurniawan Tedjono in his first round tomorrow.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will also hope to carry their form from the Sudirman Cup when they start in Bangkok tomorrow.
The eighth seed Indian pair will lock horns with Lok Yan Poon and Ying Suet Tse of Hong Kong in the first round.

Indian men's doubles pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas will face an uphill task when they take on fifth seeds Biao Chai and Zhendong Guo of China in their opener.
With V Diju still recovering from his back surgery, India will not be represented in the mixed doubles category. 

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