Saina, Srikanth hope to make a mark in Super Series Finals

Top shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth will have a tough task on hand when they lead the Indian challenge in the season-ending BWF’s World Super Series final starting here on Wednesday.

Brimming with confidence after their stupendous show at the China Super Series Premier, Saina and Srikanth will face an acid test as they will have to compete against the top eight shuttlers in their respective categories in the season finale.

Saina has been clubbed with China’s Shixian Wang, Koreans Ji Hyun Sung and Yeon Ju Bae in Group A, while Srikanth is pooled with Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark, Kento Momoto of Japan and Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia in Group B.

Two top players from each group qualify for the semifinals. Olympic bronze medallist Saina holds a 5-5 record against Shixian, with the Chinese beating the Indian four times in the last five meetings.

Against Hyun Sung, Saina has a 4-1 record but then the only time they meet in the last two years, the Indian had suffered a defeat. Against World No 9 Bae, Saina has won six times while losing four times.

A 2011 finalist, Saina doesn’t have good memories of her outing in the last edition in Kuala Lumpur where she could win just one match in her group stage, failing to enter the knockout stage.

“My preparation has been excellent. Now let us see if luck favours me. There are eight top players in fray and I still have to do better than what we have done earlier,” said Saina.

“I prefer playing Shixian to Yihan, since it has been tough for me against Yihan. But Shixian too is a difficult player and it might be a long match. I will look to perform my best, that would be the target,” she added reflecting on the draw.

For World No 8 Srikanth, it would be a great experience as he is the only male Indian shuttler to play in the Super Series Final and he would look to make it count. Among the members in his group, he has beaten Jorgensen and Momoto before, while he lost to Sugiarto in his only meeting.

The groupings:

Men’s singles: Group A: Chen Long (China), Son Wan Ho (Korea), Kenichi Tago (Japan), Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (Denmark).

Group B: Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark), Kidambi Srikanth (India), Kento Momota (Japan), Tommy Sugiarto (Indonesia).

Women’s singles: Group A: Wang Shixian (China), Saina Nehwal (India), Sung Ji Hyun (Korea), Bae Yeon Ju (Korea).

Group B: Wang Yihan (China), Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand), Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei), Akane Yamaguchi (Japan).

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