Top Indian badminton stars Saina Nehwal and K Srikanth will be looking to shrug off their recent dip in form, and put the best foot forward when they begin their campaign as defending champions at the US $700,000 China Open Super Series Premier starting with the qualifiers on Monday. Off late, the 25-year-old Saina had been suffering from abdominal pain which affected her performance in Japan, Denmark and France Super Series, where she made early exits. Also there is an issue with her achilles heel, but the Indian is upbeat about a good show. “I had some abdominal pain and little discomfort in my heel but now I am fine. I trained harder in the last few weeks and I am really looking forward to the tournament. It is the Olympic year and it is an important event. I will give my best,” said Saina.
The top seeded Indian will take on China’s Sun Yu in the opening round. Even though Saina has a 4-1 record against the Chinese, with the only defeat coming in the 2013 China Open in Shanghai, the World No. 11 might prove to be a formidable opponent.
In the men’s singles too, Srikanth has been troubled by injury and poor form ever since he stood on the podium at the Indian Open in New Delhi. The Hyderabad player had to skip the Asian Championship because of pain in the shin and later made an early exit in Japan, Korea, Denmark and France. The fifth seeded Indian will take on Hu Yun of Hong Kong. The Indian has a 2-1 record against Yun, but, he lost to him in their last encounter at the World Championship in August.
In the women’s singles, two-time bronze medallist at World Championship, PV Sindhu, who reached the finals of the Denmark Open, will open her campaign against Russian Ksenia Polikarpova.
Among other Indians in the men’s singles, Parupalli Kashyap will be missing in action after being sidelined because of a torn calf muscle injury. H S Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram will however look to get some good results in the prestigious tournament.
HS Prannoy, who had scripted the downfall of the two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan at the French Open, will open his campaign against a qualifier, while Korea Open finalist, and Dutch Open winner Jayaram, will square up against top seed Chen Long of China in his opening match at the Haixia Olympic Sports Center.
In the women’s doubles, Commonwealth Games silver medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will play against Japan’s Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao in the opening round. The men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy withdrew from the event.