Saina aiming for a repeat show

Saina aiming for a repeat show

 Defending champion Saina Nehwal will have her eyes firmly set on the women’s singles crown while Ajay Jayaram and Sourabh Verma will lead the Indian charge in men’s singles competition when the Thailand Grand Prix Gold begins with the qualifiers here on Tuesday.

Back in action after skipping the Sudirman Cup because of a freak toe injury, top seed Saina will have her task cut out as she opens her campaign against Shih Han Hung of Chinese Taipei in the main draw of the women’s singles on Wednesday. The World No 2 Indian will have an easy run till the quarterfinals where she is expected to meet local player and third seed Porntip Buranaprasertuk, who is ranked 13 in the world.

However, it will be only in the finals where the 23-year-old Hyderabadi is likely to face her toughest opponent in Thai star Ratchanok Intanon, who has been in red-hot form and has the record of beating Saina twice in the last two encounters. The event will be devoid of Chinese attractions. “I had good practice sessions for these upcoming tournaments. I am keen to repeat my last year’s performance. Let’s see how far I can do,” said Saina who will head to Indonesia and Singapore from Bangkok.

Besides Saina, PC Thulasi and Arundhati Pantawane will also feature in the women’s singles battle. While Thulasi will open her campaign against third seed Porntip, Arundhati will take on a qualifier on Wednesday.

In the men’s singles, fifth seed Jayaram will meet Shesar Hiren Rhustavito of Indonesia in the opening round, while eighth seed Sourabh will face off with a qualifier. “I have been training hard for the last one month. After the India Open I got lot of time to get back to training and I made good use of it by working on my overall strokes,” Sourabh said.

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