Saina, Verma to lead Indian challenge

Saina Nehwal. PTI

Saina Nehwal and Sameer Verma will look to put their best foot forward when they lead Indian challenge at the USD 600,000 Korea Open World Tour Super 500 tournament beginning here Tuesday.

Saina, who had skipped the Japan Open earlier this month after winning a bronze at 18th Asian Games, will look to get over the disappointment of her first-round exit at China last week when she takes on Korean Kim Hyo Min.

Fifth seeded Saina, ranked 10th in the world, grabbed a second gold at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and a bronze at the Jakarta Asian Games. But the Indian has been inconsistent in the BWF events.

Saina, who had reached the finals at the USD 350,000 Indonesia Masters in January, was ousted by Korea's Sung Ji Hyun last week at China and will have a tough task at hand as she is likely to face third seed Japanese Nozomi Okuhara in the quarterfinals.

In the men's singles, Verma will be in spotlight after Kidambi Srikanth pulled out after playing back-to-back tournaments in Japan and China in the last two weeks.

Verma has been troubled by injuries but he has done well when he has been fit, winning the Swiss Open in February and Hyderabad Open early this month.

The 23-year-old, who had finished runners-up at 2016 Hong Kong Open, will play Denmark's Anders Antonsen in his opening match.

He had beaten the Danish shuttler at India Open in January this year. If the Indian crosses the opening round, he is expected to meet reigning world champion Kento Momota of Japan.

Young women's shuttler Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka will also compete in the tournament, taking on formidable sixth seed Beiwen Zhang of USA in the opening round.

Among others, Ajay Jayaram will face China's Zhao Junpeng in the qualifiers. Young Vaidehi Choudhari and Mugdha Agrey will also compete at the women's singles qualifying round. 

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Saina, Verma to lead Indian challenge

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