Embattled Saina eyes Lucknow

Desperate for a much-needed win, two-time winner Saina Nehwal will be back in action at the Syed Modi international tournament, while defending champion Parupalli Kashyap will eye another victory when the Grand Prix Gold event begins with the qualifiers here on Tuesday.

After a lacklustre season last year in which she was plagued by injuries and failed to win a single title and her world ranking also took a beating, Saina now starts as a top seed in a field that has 16 other Indians.

Among foreign shuttlers, World No 18 Lindaweni Fanetri of Indonesia and World No 39 Xuan Deng of China will be the top challengers.

“I didn’t have a good season last year. So I’m really looking for a win now. I’m desperate to win this tournament. It will boost my confidence for the upcoming events,” Saina told PTI.

In the last edition, the 23-year-old had conceded her first round match, citing injury and fatigue. The Hyderabadi has not played in the Senior Nationals since 2007 and last month she skipped the Nationals once again as she was down with cold and cough.

The London Olympics bronze-medallist, who is currently ranked No 8 in the world, will open her campaign against Matilda Petersen of Sweden on Wednesday. Even though she has not been in the best of form, the road ahead should be an easy one for Saina.Seeded second in the draw is PV Sindhu and the lanky 18-year-old shuttler is likely to pose the biggest threat to Saina’s hopes of winning the title, which she had clinched in 2009 and 2010.

Last edition’s runners-up, Sindhu will start her campaign against Malaysian Li Lian Yang, who is ranked 108 in the world. 

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