Saina the cynosure as India eye a rich haul

Saina the cynosure as India eye a rich haul

India's ace badminton player Saina Nehwal during a press conference on Yonex-Sunrise Badminton Asia Championship 2010 scheduled to start from April 12, in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

With Jwala Gutta and V.Diju also the top seeds in the mixed doubles, India have every reason to believe that one of the categories should see a winner from home.
World No.6 Saina, who made it to the semi-finals of All England Championship this year, has another reason to be hopeful of her chances as the five top Chinese players will not be breathing down her neck this time.

She would be looking to take full advantage of the absence of players from China and Korea in the women's singles draw, though it will still be a big challenge for her with strong contenders like second seed Mi Zhou of Hong Kong, Yip Pui Yin of Chinese Taipei, and Malaysian Wong Mew Choo in the mix.

In the men's line-up, three time World Champion Lin Dan will be looking to win the only trophy missing from his cabinet. Known as 'Super' Dan, the Chinese star completed a hat-trick of World titles last year in Hyderabad.

This year though, 26-year-old Lin lost to compatriot Bao Chunali in the quarterfinals of his favourite All England Championship, where he contested the last six finals and won four titles.

Taufik HidayatLin has been seeded second in the tournament, but will not have it easy with the presence of his arch-rival Taufiq Hidayat of Indonesia at the top of the draw.
Taufiq has won the title three times and the first came way back in 2000. For the Athens Olympic gold medallist, India has been a happy hunting ground as he won the Indian Open in 2009.

It will be a wonderful opportunity for tall and young Chinese player Long Chen, seeded third, to test himself against these two stalwarts. Chen would be high on confidence after finishing runner up in the Swiss Super Series where he lost to compatriot Chen Jin.

Indian hopes would rest on Parupalli Kashyap, Arvind Bhat and Anup Sridhar, ranked 30th and 36th and 42 in the world, after Chetan Anand pulled out at the last minute due to an injury. Bhat, who is seeded 16th, is himself coming back from an ankle injury after missing the All England and Swiss Open.

In mixed doubles, Jwala and Diju, who had an outstanding run last year when they entered the top 10, should not face any problem till the quarterfinals.
In the men's doubles, third seeds Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas will hold the fort while Jwala and Ashwini Ponappa, ranked 24th in the world, will be the top Indian draw in women's doubles.

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