BWF World Super Series Finals: Fit again, Saina Nehwal targets a fine year-end finish

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Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal

After a much-needed rest following a feet injury that kept her out of action, World Number 2  and India’s badminton  star  Saina Nehwal will certainly look to continue her rampaging form, while Kidambi Srikanth would be hoping to carry on his confidence from Indonesia Masters, when the Indian duo face the best in business, at the BWF World Super Series Finals in Dubai. The London Olympic bronze medallist, Saina, was left nursing her Achilles tendon after her runners-up finish at the China Super Series Premier last month.

Saina, who missed the Hong Kong Open and had to race against time to get into full fitness, will face Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in her opening Group A women’s singles match at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

The 2011 finalist, Saina has a 4-0 record against Nozomi, having beaten her twice this season at the Badminton Asia Championship in April and China Open last month. The 25-year-old, who reached the finals of All England, World Championship and China Open, has been clubbed with World No. 1 Carolina Marin of Spain and Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in Group A. Saina has a 5-5 head-to-head record against Ying but she had lost to her in their only meeting this year at the Asia Championship, while she lost twice to Marin at the All England and World Championship.

“It is always difficult to fight with the top players in badminton. I will give my best to show my performance,” said Saina, who had to undergo a scan to diagnose her Achilles tendon problems and was prescribed rest.

K Srikanth, the Indian men’s player on the other hand, has had his highs and lows this year, winning the — Swiss Open and India Open early in the season, and before stumbling on a rough patch where he made many early exits.

But the 22-year-old from Kuntur has finished at the runners-up position last week at the Indonesia Masters Grand Prix Gold and is looking to carry on the form, when he faces Japan’s Kento Momota, a formidable rival against whom he has a 3-3 record.

“It has been a difficult season in the second half. I hope to do well in the season-ending event,” said Srikanth, who lost to Tommy Sugiarto in the finals of Indonesia Masters Grand Prix Gold.

In men’s singles, World No. 9 Srikanth will be up against Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen during the Group B round-robin matches. Srikanth had beaten Chou at the Hong Kong Open last year, while against Axelsen, he has a 2-0 record, having defeated the Danish twice this year at Swiss Open and India Open.

Two players will qualify from each group in the round-robin stage to compete in the semifinals. Saina and Srikanth had reached the semi-finals of the prestigious event last year.