Saina begins title defence

Saina begins title defence

The Singapore Super Series is one of three titles the world number four Indian won on the trot in June last year, but to repeat her show this year, Saina will have to overcome her inconsistent form and lingering ankle injury.

Halfway through the year, Saina has just one title — the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold — and one runner-up finish in the Malaysia Super Series to her name.

In the last six months, Saina has tasted success but defeats to lower-ranked players such as Japanese Ai Goto in the Indian Open Super Series and to world number 18 Inthanon Ratchanok of Thailand in the Sudirman Cup have brought to the fore her inconsistency.

In the Thailand Open last week, Saina lost to world number 16 Xuerui Li of China in the quarterfinals and the Indian will have to get her act together if she hopes at the Singapore Indoor stadium this week.

The fourth seed will start her campaign against world number 24 Chinese Lu Lan, whom she beat in the opening round of the Thailand Open, but the Indian can’t afford to be complacent and take her opponent lightly.

If she passes the first hurdle, the 21-year-old Indian is not expected to face much difficulty in reaching the quarterfinals, where she can meet top seed Chinese Shixian Wang for a pace in the semifinals.

In the men’s singles, it will be an uphill task for top Indian shuttler P Kashyap as he faces eighth seed Korean Sung Hwan Park in the opening round. His compatriots, RMV Gurusai Datt and Ajay Jayaram will, however, have to make their way through the qualifying round.

National Games gold medallist Arundhati Pantawane will also have to clear the qualifying rounds to make an entry into the main round in the women’s singles.

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