Saina, Sindhu are the cynosure

Badminton: Home shuttlers eye good show as Indian Open begins today

Saina, Sindhu are the cynosure
Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu will be the cynosure when the seventh India Super Series badminton tournament gets underway with the qualifiers here on Tuesday.

London bronze-medallist Saina will be one of the favourites at the event, which she won two years ago to achieve the world No. 1 ranking.

“Delhi has always been special to me. I won the Commonwealth Games gold here and then won the Indian Open in 2015 and became the world No. 1. So everything has been special for me. It is great to play in front of home crowd,” said the current world No. 8, who has been on a comeback trail after recovering from a knee injury.

“The competition has become tougher. But I have been playing well, even at All England, the match that I lost was 50-50. So all I can say is I will give my best and hope to do well,” she added.

Rio Olympics silver-medallist Sindhu, who has been in rampaging form ever since her Olympic high, will also look to continue her good run at the Sri Fort Sports complex. Saina and Sindhu had crashed out of the All England Championship after losing in the quarterfinals and the duo would be eyeing better results this week.

They are likely to bump into each other in the quarterfinals on Friday if they manage to topple their opponents in the first two rounds.

Sindhu will open her campaign against a qualifier after her opponent — Singapore’s Xiaoyu Liang — withdrew, while Saina will take on Chinese Taipei’s Chia Hsin Lee in the opening round.

Sindhu, seeded third, is likely to face Japan’s Saena Kawakami in the second round, while Saina will probably take on Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong, an opponent she had beaten in the finals of the Malaysia Masters in January.

The two have met just once in an international competition — at the 2014 Syed Modi International — where Saina had won in straight games.

Among others in women’s singles, Rituparna Das will square off against Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Mei Hui and Tanvi Lad will have an uphill task against seventh seed Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.

Unheralded Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli will face second seed Korean Sung Ji Hyun in her opening match.

In men’s singles, K Srikanth will look to repeat the performance which got him the 2015 edition title.

Also in fray will be Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold champion and runner-up Sameer Verma and B Sai Praneeth. Ajay Jayaram will have to get past third seed and Olympic bronze-medallist Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

Former Swiss Open champion H S Prannoy, who had hurt his knee at Basel this year, will face Malaysia’s Zulfadli Zulkiffli in the first round.

Rights extended
In a good news for Indian fans, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has extended the hosting rights of the Indian Super Series tournament by four years.

“The tournament has consistently raised its bar over the years and our efforts have been appreciated by the BWF for which they have awarded us the hosting right of the tournament for next four years,” BAI President Akhilesh Das Gupta said.

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