Saina may run into Tine in quarters

Indian ace Saina Nehwal will start her quest for an Olympic medal against Sabrina Jaquet of Switzerland on July 28 in the women’s badminton singles event in the London Games.

The draw event for the London Olympics badminton event was held on Monday at the Main Press Center of the Olympic Park and Saina, seeded fourth, was clubbed in Group E along with Sabrina, world ranked 65, and Lianne Tan of Belgium, ranked 55.

The 22-year-old Indian, who had reached the quarters in 2008 Beijing Olympics, is one of the front-runners to win the gold, beside three Chinese players.

Saina is likely to play 14th seed Yao Jie of The Netherlands (Group F) in the pre-quarterfinals. The world number five Hyderabadi is expected to face some tough competition in the quarterfinals as she is likely to take on either two-time All England Champion Tine Baun (Group G), seeded fifth, or 12th seed Japanese Sayaka Sato (Group H).

In the men’s singles, world number 21 P Kashyap has been clubbed with 10th seed Vietnamese Nguyen Tien Minh and Tan Yuhan of Belgium in Group D.

The Commonwealth bronze medallist Indian has beaten Nguyen twice in the past, while against Tan, he holds a 1-1 record. Going by his recent form, Kashyap is likely to top the group and take on eighth seed Japanese Kenichi Tago (Group C) in the round of the 16.

In the women’s doubles, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa have been placed with fourth seeded Japanese pair of Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa, Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin of Chinese Taipei and Singapore’s Shinta Sari Mulia and Yao Lei in Group B.

The Indian pair has a 1-2 record against the Japanese duo, while they lost thrice to the Singapore combo.

In mixed doubles competition, V Diju and Jwala Gutta have been clubbed in Group C along with third seed Indonesians Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, Danes Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Koreans Lee Yong Dae and Ha Jung Eun.

The world number four Indonesian pair has beaten the Indian duo once, while eighth-ranked Danish combo has a 2-0 record against Jwala and Diju. With the Korean combo, the Indians have a 1-1 record.

The badminton event will start on Saturday at the Wembley Arena. A total of five events will be contested — men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.

In the singles, only the 16 group winners will qualify for the pre-quarterfinals.

Badminton draw

The Groupings (only Indians, prefix denotes seedings):

* Men’s singles: Group D: 10-Tien Minh Nguyen (Vietnam), Parupalli Kashyap (India), Yuhan Tan (Belgium).
* Women’s singles: Group E: 4-Saina Nehwal (India), Sabrina Jaquet (Switzerland), Lianne Tan (Belgium).
* Women’s doubles: Group B: 4-Fujii M/ Kakiiwa R (Japan), Jwala Gutta/ Ashwini Ponnappa (India), Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin (Taipei), Sari Shinta Mulia/ / Yao Lei (Singapore).
* Mixed doubles: Group C: 3-Ahmad Tontowi/ Natsir Liliyana (Indonesia), Laybourn Thomas/ Juhl Kamilla Rytter (Denmark), Korea Lee Yong Dae/ Ha Jung Eun (South Korea), Valiyaveetil Diju/ Jwala Gutta (India).
* Singles: 16 group winners will qualify for the pre-quarterfinals.
* Doubles: Top two from the four groups will qualify for the quarterfinals.

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